From 1970 to the present, the report says, average life expectancy around the globe jumped to 70 years from 59; school enrollment through high school was 70 percent of eligible pupils, up from 55 percent; and average per capita income doubled to more than $10,000 in the 135 countries for which data was available, The New York Times reported.
Statistics in the report apply to about 92 percent of the world's population, the newspaper said.
Life expectancy did decline in nine countries, the report said.
The report said varied changes found among so many different countries shows there is no one single policy answer to the world's development questions.
"There are no universal prescriptions which we can see taking effect in all of the countries," said Jeni Klugman, the lead author.