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39 Different Ways to Say ‘In Conclusion’ in an Essay (Rated)

essay conclusion examples and definition, explained below

The phrase “In conclusion …” sounds reductive, simple and … well, just basic.

You can find better words to conclude an essay than that!

So below I’ve outlined a list of different ways to say in conclusion in an essay using a range of analysis verbs . Each one comes with an explanation of the best time to use each phrase and an example you could consider.

Read Also: How to Write a Conclusion using the 5C’s Method

List of Ways to Say ‘In Conclusion’ in an Essay

The following are the best tips I have for to say in conclusion in an essay.

1. The Weight of the Evidence Suggests…

My Rating: 10/10

Overview: This is a good concluding phrase for an evaluative essay where you need to compare two different positions on a topic then conclude by saying which one has more evidence behind it than the other.

You could also use this phrase for argumentative essays where you’ve put forward all the evidence for your particular case.

Example: “The weight of the evidence suggests that climate change is a real phenomenon.”

2. A Thoughtful Analysis would Conclude…

My Rating: 9/10

Overview: I would use this phrase in either an argumentative essay or a comparison essay. As an argument, it highlights that you think your position is the most logical.

In a comparison essay, it shows that you have (or have intended to) thoughtfully explore the issue by looking at both sides.

Example: “A thoughtful analysis would conclude that there is substantial evidence highlighting that climate change is real.”

Related Article: 17+ Great Ideas For An Essay About Yourself

3. A Balanced Assessment of the Above Information…

Overview: This phrase can be used to show that you have made a thoughtful analysis of the information you found when researching the essay. You’re telling your teacher with this phrase that you have looked at all sides of the argument before coming to your conclusion.

Example: “A balanced assessment of the above information would be that climate change exists and will have a strong impact on the world for centuries to come.”

4. Across the Board…

My Rating: 5/10

Overview: I would use this phrase in a less formal context such as in a creative discussion but would leave it out of a formal third-person essay. To me, the phrase comes across as too colloquial.

Example: “Across the board, there are scientists around the world who consistently provide evidence for human-induced climate change.”

5. Logically…

My Rating: 7/10

Overview: This phrase can be used at the beginning of any paragraph that states out a series of facts that will be backed by clear step-by-step explanations that the reader should be able to follow to a conclusion.

Example: “Logically, the rise of the automobile would speed up economic expansion in the United States. Automobiles allowed goods to flow faster around the economy.

6. After all is Said and Done…

Overview: This is a colloquial term that is more useful in a speech than written text. If you feel that the phrase ‘In conclusion,’ is too basic, then I’d also avoid this term. However, use in speech is common, so if you’re giving a speech, it may be more acceptable.

Example: “After all is said and done, it’s clear that there is more evidence to suggest that climate change is real than a hoax.”

7. All in All…

Overview: ‘All in all’ is a colloquial term that I would use in speech but not in formal academic writing. Colloquialisms can show that you have poor command of the English language. However, I would consider using this phrase in the conclusion of a debate.

Example: “All in all, our debate team has shown that there is insurmountable evidence that our side of the argument is correct.”

8. All Things Considered…

My Rating: 6/10

Overview: This term is a good way of saying ‘I have considered everything above and now my conclusion is..’ However, it is another term that’s more commonly used in speech than writing. Use it in a high school debate, but when it comes to a formal essay, I would leave it out.

Example: “All things considered, there’s no doubt in my mind that climate change is man-made.”

9. As a Final Note…

My Rating: 3/10

Overview: This phrase gives me the impression that the student doesn’t understand the point of a conclusion. It’s not to simply make a ‘final note’, but to summarize and reiterate. So, I would personally avoid this one.

Example: “As a final note, I would say that I do think the automobile was one of the greatest inventions of the 20 th Century.”

10. As Already Stated…

My Rating: 2/10

Overview: I don’t like this phrase. It gives teachers the impression that you’re going around in circles and haven’t organized your essay properly. I would particularly avoid it in the body of an essay because I always think: “If you already stated it, why are you stating it again?” Of course, the conclusion does re-state things, but it also adds value because it also summarizes them. So, add value by using a phrase such as ‘summarizing’ or ‘weighing up’ in your conclusion instead.

Example: “As already stated, I’m going to repeat myself and annoy my teacher.”

11. At present, the Best Evidence Suggests…

My Rating: 8/10

Overview: In essays where the evidence may change in the future. Most fields of study do involve some evolution over time, so this phrase acknowledges that “right now” the best evidence is one thing, but it may change in the future. It also shows that you’ve looked at the latest information on the topic.

Example: “At present, the best evidence suggests that carbon dioxide emissions from power plants is the greatest influence on climate change.”

12. At the Core of the Issue…

Overview: I personally find this phrase to be useful for most essays. It highlights that you are able to identify the most important or central point from everything you have examined. It is slightly less formal than some other phrases on this list, but I also wouldn’t consider it too colloquial for an undergraduate essay.

Example: “At the core of the issue in this essay is the fact scientists have been unable to convince the broader public of the importance of action on climate change.”

13. Despite the shortcomings of…

Overview: This phrase can be useful in an argumentative essay. It shows that there are some limitations to your argument, but , on balance you still think your position is the best. This will allow you to show critical insight and knowledge while coming to your conclusion.

Often, my students make the mistake of thinking they can only take one side in an argumentative essay. On the contrary, you should be able to highlight the limitations of your point-of-view while also stating that it’s the best.

Example: “Despite the shortcomings of globalization, this essay has found that on balance it has been good for many areas in both the developed and developing world.”

14. Finally…

My Rating: 4/10

Overview: While the phrase ‘Finally,’ does indicate that you’re coming to the end of your discussion, it is usually used at the end of a list of ideas rather than in a conclusion. It also implies that you’re adding a point rather that summing up previous points you have made.

Example: “Finally, this essay has highlighted the importance of communication between policy makers and practitioners in order to ensure good policy is put into effect.”

15. Gathering the above points together…

Overview: While this is not a phrase I personally use very often, I do believe it has the effect of indicating that you are “summing up”, which is what you want out of a conclusion.

Example: “Gathering the above points together, it is clear that the weight of evidence highlights the importance of action on climate change.”

16. Given the above information…

Overview: This phrase shows that you are considering the information in the body of the piece when coming to your conclusion. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate for starting a conclusion.

Example: “Given the above information, it is reasonable to conclude that the World Health Organization is an appropriate vehicle for achieving improved health outcomes in the developing world.”

17. In a nutshell…

Overview: This phrase means to say everything in the fewest possible words. However, it is a colloquial phrase that is best used in speech rather than formal academic writing.

Example: “In a nutshell, there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate about socialism vs capitalism.”

18. In closing…

Overview: This phrase is an appropriate synonym for ‘In conclusion’ and I would be perfectly fine with a student using this phrase in their essay. Make sure you follow-up by explaining your position based upon the weight of evidence presented in the body of your piece

Example: “In closing, there is ample evidence to suggest that liberalism has been the greatest force for progress in the past 100 years.”

19. In essence…

Overview: While the phrase ‘In essence’ does suggest you are about to sum up the core findings of your discussion, it is somewhat colloquial and is best left for speech rather than formal academic writing.

Example: “In essence, this essay has shown that cattle farming is an industry that should be protected as an essential service for our country.”

20. In review…

Overview: We usually review someone else’s work, not our own. For example, you could review a book that you read or a film you watched. So, writing “In review” as a replacement for “In conclusion” comes across a little awkward.

Example: “In review, the above information has made a compelling case for compulsory military service in the United States.”

21. In short…

Overview: Personally, I find that this phrase is used more regularly by undergraduate student. As students get more confident with their writing, they tend to use higher-rated phrases from this list. Nevertheless, I would not take grades away from a student for using this phrase.

Example: “In short, this essay has shown the importance of sustainable agriculture for securing a healthy future for our nation.”

22. In Sum…

Overview: Short for “In summary”, the phrase “In sum” sufficiently shows that you are not coming to the moment where you will sum up the essay. It is an appropriate phrase to use instead of “In conclusion”.

But remember to not just summarize but also discuss the implications of your findings in your conclusion.

Example: “In sum, this essay has shown the importance of managers in ensuring efficient operation of medium-to-large enterprises.”

23. In Summary…

Overview: In summary and in sum are the same terms which can be supplemented for “In conclusion”. You will show that you are about to summarize the points you said in the body of the essay, which is what you want from an essay.

Example: “In summary, reflection is a very important metacognitive skill that all teachers need to master in order to improve their pedagogical skills.”

24. It cannot be conclusively stated that…

Overview: While this phrase is not always be a good fit for your essay, when it is, it does show knowledge and skill in writing. You would use this phrase if you are writing an expository essay where you have decided that there is not enough evidence currently to make a firm conclusion on the issue.

Example: “It cannot be conclusively stated that the Big Bang was when the universe began. However, it is the best theory so far, and none of the other theories explored in this essay have as much evidence behind them.”

25. It is apparent that…

Overview: The term ‘ apparent ’ means that something is ‘clear’ or even ‘obvious’. So, you would use this word in an argumentative essay where you think you have put forward a very compelling argument.

Example: “It is apparent that current migration patterns in the Americas are unsustainable and causing significant harm to the most vulnerable people in our society.”

26. Last but not least…

Overview: The phrase “last but not least” is a colloquial idiom that is best used in speech rather than formal academic writing. Furthermore, when you are saying ‘last’, you mean to say you’re making your last point rather than summing up all your points you already made. So, I’d avoid this one.

Example: “Last but not least, this essay has highlighted the importance of empowering patients to exercise choice over their own medical decisions.”

27. Overall…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Overview: This phrase means ‘taking everything into account’, which sounds a lot like what you would want to do in an essay. I don’t consider it to be a top-tier choice (which is why I rated it 7), but in my opinion it is perfectly acceptable to use in an undergraduate essay.

Example: “Overall, religious liberty continues to be threatened across the world, and faces significant threats in the 21 st Century.”

28. The above points illustrate…

Overview: This phrase is a good start to a conclusion paragraph that talks about the implications of the points you made in your essay. Follow it up with a statement that defends your thesis you are putting forward in the essay.

Example: “The above points illustrate that art has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on humanity since the renaissance.”

29. The evidence presented in this essay suggests that…

Overview: I like this phrase because it highlights that you are about to gather together the evidence from the body of the essay to put forward a final thesis statement .

Example: “The evidence presented in this essay suggests that the democratic system of government is the best for securing maximum individual liberty for citizens of a nation.”

30. This essay began by stating…

Overview: This phrase is one that I teach in my YouTube mini-course as an effective one to use in an essay conclusion. If you presented an interesting fact in your introduction , you can return to that point from the beginning of the essay to provide nice symmetry in your writing.

Example: “This essay began by stating that corruption has been growing in the Western world. However, the facts collected in the body of the essay show that institutional checks and balances can sufficiently minimize this corruption in the long-term.”

31. This essay has argued…

Overview: This term can be used effectively in an argumentative essay to provide a summary of your key points. Follow it up with an outline of all your key points, and then a sentence about the implications of the points you made. See the example below.

Example: “This essay has argued that standardized tests are damaging for students’ mental health. Tests like the SATs should therefore be replaced by project-based testing in schools.”

32. To close…

Overview: This is a very literal way of saying “In conclusion”. While it’s suitable and serves its purpose, it does come across as being a sophomoric term. Consider using one of the higher-rated phrases in this list.

Example: “To close, this essay has highlighted both the pros and cons of relational dialectics theory and argued that it is not the best communication theory for the 21 st Century.”

33. To Conclude…

Overview: Like ‘to close’ and ‘in summary’, the phrase ‘to conclude’ is very similar to ‘in conclusion’. It can therefore be used as a sufficient replacement for that term. However, as with the above terms, it’s just okay and you could probably find a better phrase to use.

Example: “To conclude, this essay has highlighted that there are multiple models of communication but there is no one perfect theory to explain each situation.”

34. To make a long story short…

My Rating: 1/10

Overview: This is not a good phrase to use in an academic essay. It is a colloquialism. It also implies that you have been rambling in your writing and you could have said everything more efficiently. I would personally not use this phrase.

Example: “To make a long story short, I don’t have very good command of academic language.”

35. To Sum up…

Overview: This phrase is the same as ‘In summary’. It shows that you have made all of your points and now you’re about to bring them all together in a ‘summary’. Just remember in your conclusion that you need to do more than summarize but also talk about the implications of your findings. So you’ll need to go beyond just a summary.

Example: “In summary, there is ample evidence that linear models of communication like Lasswell’s model are not as good at explaining 21 st Century communication as circular models like the Osgood-Schramm model .”

36. Ultimately…

Overview: While this phrase does say that you are coming to a final point – also known as a conclusion – it’s also a very strong statement that might not be best to use in all situations. I usually accept this phrase from my undergraduates, but for my postgraduates I’d probably suggest simply removing it.

Example: “Ultimately, new media has been bad for the world because it has led to the spread of mistruths around the internet.”

37. Undoubtedly…

Overview: If you are using it in a debate or argumentative essay, it can be helpful. However, in a regular academic essay, I would avoid it. We call this a ‘booster’, which is a term that emphasizes certainty. Unfortunately, certainty is a difficult thing to claim, so you’re better off ‘hedging’ with phrases like ‘It appears’ or ‘The best evidence suggests’.

Example: “Undoubtedly, I know everything about this topic and am one hundred percent certain even though I’m just an undergraduate student.”

38. Weighing up the facts, this essay finds…

Overview: This statement highlights that you are looking at all of the facts both for and against your points of view. It shows you’re not just blindly following one argument but being careful about seeing things from many perspectives.

Example: “Weighing up the facts, this essay finds that reading books is important for developing critical thinking skills in childhood.”

39. With that said…

Overview: This is another phrase that I would avoid. This is a colloquialism that’s best used in speech rather than writing. It is another term that feels sophomoric and is best to avoid. Instead, use a more formal term such as: ‘Weighing up the above points, this essay finds…’

Example: “With that said, this essay disagrees with the statement that you need to go to college to get a good job.”

Do you Need to Say Anything?

Something I often tell my students is: “Can you just remove that phrase?”

Consider this sentence:

  • “In conclusion, the majority of scientists concur that climate change exists.”

Would it be possible to simply say:

  • “ In conclusion, The majority of scientists concur that climate change exists.”

So, I’d recommend also just considering removing that phrase altogether! Sometimes the best writing is the shortest, simplest writing that gets to the point without any redundant language at all.

How to Write an Effective Conclusion

Before I go, I’d like to bring your attention to my video on ‘how to write an effective conclusion’. I think it would really help you out given that you’re looking for help on how to write a conclusion. It’s under 5 minutes long and has helped literally thousands of students write better conclusions for their essays:

You can also check out these conclusion examples for some copy-and-paste conclusions for your own essay.

In Conclusion…

Well, I had to begin this conclusion with ‘In conclusion…’ I liked the irony in it, and I couldn’t pass up that chance.

Overall, don’t forget that concluding an essay is a way to powerfully summarize what you’ve had to say and leave the reader with a strong impression that you’ve become an authority on the topic you’re researching. 

So, whether you write it as a conclusion, summary, or any other synonym for conclusion, those other ways to say in conclusion are less important than making sure that the message in your conclusion is incredibly strong.


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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  • 55 Other Ways to Say in Conclusion: Want a Memorable Finish?
  • Learn English
  • James Prior
  • No Comments
  • Updated July 24, 2023

Synonyms for in conclusion

In order to be a better writer or speaker, you need to use synonyms for in conclusion. After all, everyone knows ‘in conclusion’, and if you want to stand out you need to mix things up! So, if you’re ready to vary the way you end a piece of writing or finish a presentation read on for 55 alternatives for in conclusion!

Table of Contents

55 synonyms for in conclusion

What’s another word for in conclusion? Take a look at these in conclusion replacements:

  • All in all,
  • All things considered,
  • As a conclusion,
  • As a final observation,
  • As a final point,
  • As demonstrated,
  • As you can see,
  • At the end of the day,
  • Briefly to conclude,
  • By and large, we can say
  • Considering all of this,
  • Everything considered,
  • For the most part,
  • For these reasons,
  • Generally speaking,
  • In a nutshell,
  • In closing,
  • In general, it may be concluded that…
  • In summary,
  • In summation,
  • In the end,
  • It can be concluded…
  • Last but not least,
  • On a final note,
  • On the whole,
  • Simply put,
  • Summing up,
  • Taking everything into account,
  • The bottom line is…
  • The conclusion is…
  • To conclude,
  • To cut a long story short,
  • To end things off,
  • To end with,
  • To put it all together,
  • To put it briefly,
  • To summarize,
  • To wrap it all up,
  • Ultimately,
  • Upon analyzing,
  • Upon reflection,
  • Upon review,
  • With this in mind,

There you have it, 55 alternatives for in conclusion! Many of these can also be used as in conclusion transition words or as a transition phrase.

This should allow you to form a variety of in conclusion phrases for your academic essay or any other piece of writing you are working on.

If you’re not currently writing anything, but want to practice using some of these for real, check out these 50 prompts for narrative writing .

Otherwise, for some other in conclusion phrases and their pronunciation, check out this video:

But when should you use these and what is the meaning of in conclusion?

In conclusion meaning

‘In conclusion’ means to evaluate and summarise everything that came before and provide a final argument. It can be used in both the academic and professional environment and you will find it in some form or another at the end of essays, speeches, books, reports and sales pitches.

Arguably, a conclusion makes up the most important part of academic and professional writing. This is because it lets the reader know that there is a conclusion coming and forms a key part of the overall written structure. Plus, if you know how to write a conclusion that sticks in the mind of the reader, they are much more likely to remember your message.

When to use in conclusion?

In conclusion, or one of the many in conclusion synonyms, can be used at the end of a piece of writing or speaking when you want to indicate to your audience that you are approaching your closing words and are about to summarise what you have written before.

Using in conclusion in speeches and oral presentations actually works every well. Some people would argue that it works even better than in academic or professional writing, where using in conclusion may sometimes be unnecessary. Alternatively, you might just want to find a better, more suitable term to replace it. After all, that’s why we created this list!

Before we go any further, if you want an in conclusion paragraph example, let’s sum up this article:

In conclusion, a conclusion can be found at the end of a piece of writing and evaluates and summarises everything that came before. It lets the reader know what they have read and can also establish your final argument and closing position on the subject.

In conclusion or to conclude?

In conclusion and to conclude are what are known as complete synonyms and mean exactly the same thing. You can therefore interchange them as much as you like and use whichever fits best.

In summary or in conclusion?

You may have already seen variations of the word ‘summary’ in this article. In summary can be used in the same way as in conclusion, which is at the end of a piece of writing or speaking to indicate the beginning of the closing statement. However, it doesn’t have the exact same meaning as in conclusion and is therefore known as a close synonym. Nevertheless, you can replace in conclusion with in summary in most instances and it is a great example of another way to say in conclusion. Speaking of which, here are a variety of in conclusion examples using some of the other words we outlined above:

In conclusion synonyms with examples

All in all , the event was a great success.

All things considered ; it’s clear that the internet radically changed the world.

At the end of the day , he made a mistake by not preparing correctly.

By and large , we can say that polar bears prefer a cold environment.

Lastly , the computer course is clearly great value.

In a nutshell , the manager hadn’t resolved his problem.

In brief , the meeting didn’t go well.

In conclusion , squirrels preferred acorns to nuts from the supermarket.

In short , they weren’t ready and this caused their downfall.

In sum , they should reduce their expenses.

In summary , money is needed in order to survive.

In the end , a draw was a fair result.

Last but not least , it will definitely help the employees.

On the whole , I’m against the statement.

To conclude , DVDs were always going to be replaced by new technology.

To sum up , there is only one obvious solution.

To summarise , this wasn’t the right approach.

Ultimately , they decided on the best course of action.

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80 In Conclusion Examples! + Translation

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List of ways to say in conclusion with Translation. Use these synonyms for in conclusion to be a better writer.

In Conclusion Synonyms

You can use the following expressions:

  • All in all,
  • In summary,
  • To conclude,
  • In closing,
  • Finally, it may be concluded…
  • To summarize,
  • Overall, it may be said…
  • Taking everything into account,
  • On the whole,
  • All things considered,
  • Everything considered,
  • By and large,
  • In the end,
  • In a nutshell,
  • In general,
  • As a conclusion,
  • In the long run,
  • On a final note,
  • To finish with,
  • As a matter of fact,
  • Last but not least,
  • Simply put,
  • Generally speaking,
  • Altogether,
  • Principally,
  • In a long term,
  • Ultimately,
  • To close up,
  • Considering,
  • In the final stages,
  • For all intents and purposes
  • After all, I’m done..
  • All circumstances have been considered,…
  • therefore,…
  • As a final observation,
  • At the end of the day
  • To summarize briefly
  • Lifting the back,
  • Considering all this,
  • simply put,
  • In integration,…
  • In essence,
  • Under review,
  • in the end,
  • The bottom line is
  • The conclusion is
  • Obviously, through
  • last but not least
  • the last point
  • on the whole,
  • In general, it can be said that
  • With this in mind,
  • Main research paper says,
  • Briefly explain
  • Speaking of the point
  • To end everything
  • To make a long story short
  • To put it bluntly…
  • To summarize the above,
  • To wrap it all up,…

In Conclusion Translation

In conclusion has over 600 possible synonyms , some complete synonyms and other very similar. Since in conclusion is used to conclude statements and show results , the synonyms do that as well. They are all often used to denote the final argument.

  • in a nutshell,
  • in general,
  • to conclude,
  • as a conclusion,
  • in the long run,
  • on a final note,
  • to finish with,
  • as a matter of fact,

in conclusion synonyms

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What does In Conclusion mean?

In conclusion means to provide a final argument . It is used to prepare the people listening or reading for your final statement . In conclusion is used at the end of essays, speeches, dissertations, books, etc.

In the most basic sense, it means exactly what is ways, that there is a conclusion coming.

Sentences with In Conclusion Examples

  • In conclusion, it is safe to say that the results show how student motivation can be increased with the help of our new method.
  • In conclusion, we have to direct our attention to the factors behind the rising crime rate, and not just the demographic it affects.
  • In conclusion, the true goal of the poet’s expression will forever remain a mystery to us.

In Summary vs In Conclusion

In summary and in conclusion are considered close synonyms. They don’t have exactly the same meaning, but they are used in very similar fashion in writing and speaking. They both appear at the ends of various arguments in order to denote the final statement.

In summary is used when you want to announce your conclusion , but you present that conclusion as a summary of all the facts previously mentioned.

In conclusion is used when you want to make a final statement , and clarify your previous arguments. This is why in summary and in conclusion are different in meaning. In summary does not denote a final statement, only a summary of the facts.

To Conclude or In Conclusion

To conclude and in conclusion are complete synonyms , so they mean the same thing. You can use whichever you like more , or whichever best fits your needs.

In Conclusion Transition Words

In conclusion, is a transitional phrase in of itself. It denotes the final argument, so it is a transition between evidence and statement.

In conclusion, is also always divided by a comma . The phrase can only be used the start of a sentence , and cannot appear anywhere else. Therefore, it is a transitional phrase.

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Another word for Amazingly


Can you also use “with that being said”?

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Yes, you can. Absolutely! Really good addition!


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This was really helpful for my essay that was due today!! Thanks a lot ^^

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Useful list 🙂 But it would have been great if you had given examples too. Still, it is worth sharing on twitter for me 🙂

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This was pretty helpful and i was able to not just keep saying in conclusion for all of my school work. 🙂 But also, did anybody notice that it says 15 different ways to say in conclusion but it only gave 10?


Synonyms for opinion and secondly and I also need wow words

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5 Examples of Concluding Words for Essays

5 Examples of Concluding Words for Essays

4-minute read

  • 19th September 2022

If you’re a student writing an essay or research paper, it’s important to make sure your points flow together well. You’ll want to use connecting words (known formally as transition signals) to do this. Transition signals like thus , also , and furthermore link different ideas, and when you get to the end of your work, you need to use these to mark your conclusion. Read on to learn more about transition signals and how to use them to conclude your essays.

Transition Signals

Transition signals link sentences together cohesively, enabling easy reading and comprehension. They are usually placed at the beginning of a sentence and separated from the remaining words with a comma. There are several types of transition signals, including those to:

●  show the order of a sequence of events (e.g., first, then, next)

●  introduce an example (e.g., specifically, for instance)

●  indicate a contrasting idea (e.g., but, however, although)

●  present an additional idea (e.g., also, in addition, plus)

●  indicate time (e.g., beforehand, meanwhile, later)

●  compare (e.g., likewise, similarly)

●  show cause and effect (e.g., thus, as a result)

●  mark the conclusion – which we’ll focus on in this guide.

When you reach the end of an essay, you should start the concluding paragraph with a transition signal that acts as a bridge to the summary of your key points. Check out some concluding transition signals below and learn how you can use them in your writing.

To Conclude…

This is a particularly versatile closing statement that can be used for almost any kind of essay, including both formal and informal academic writing. It signals to the reader that you will briefly restate the main idea. As an alternative, you can begin the summary with “to close” or “in conclusion.” In an argumentative piece, you can use this phrase to indicate a call to action or opinion:

To conclude, Abraham Lincoln was the best president because he abolished slavery.

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As Has Been Demonstrated…

To describe how the evidence presented in your essay supports your argument or main idea, begin the concluding paragraph with “as has been demonstrated.” This phrase is best used for research papers or articles with heavy empirical or statistical evidence.

As has been demonstrated by the study presented above, human activities are negatively altering the climate system.

The Above Points Illustrate…

As another transitional phrase for formal or academic work, “the above points illustrate” indicates that you are reiterating your argument and that the conclusion will include an assessment of the evidence you’ve presented.

The above points illustrate that children prefer chocolate over broccoli.

In a Nutshell…

A simple and informal metaphor to begin a conclusion, “in a nutshell” prepares the reader for a summary of your paper. It can work in narratives and speeches but should be avoided in formal situations.

In a nutshell, the Beatles had an impact on musicians for generations to come.

Overall, It Can Be Said…

To recap an idea at the end of a critical or descriptive essay, you can use this phrase at the beginning of the concluding paragraph. “Overall” means “taking everything into account,” and it sums up your essay in a formal way. You can use “overall” on its own as a transition signal, or you can use it as part of a phrase.

Overall, it can be said that art has had a positive impact on humanity.

Proofreading and Editing

Transition signals are crucial to crafting a well-written and cohesive essay. For your next writing assignment, make sure you include plenty of transition signals, and check out this post for more tips on how to improve your writing. And before you turn in your paper, don’t forget to have someone proofread your work. Our expert editors will make sure your essay includes all the transition signals necessary for your writing to flow seamlessly. Send in a free 500-word sample today!

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Words to Use in an Essay: 300 Essay Words

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Hannah Yang

words to use in an essay

Table of Contents

Words to use in the essay introduction, words to use in the body of the essay, words to use in your essay conclusion, how to improve your essay writing vocabulary.

It’s not easy to write an academic essay .

Many students struggle to word their arguments in a logical and concise way.

To make matters worse, academic essays need to adhere to a certain level of formality, so we can’t always use the same word choices in essay writing that we would use in daily life.

If you’re struggling to choose the right words for your essay, don’t worry—you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of over 300 words and phrases to use in the introduction, body, and conclusion of your essay.

The introduction is one of the hardest parts of an essay to write.

You have only one chance to make a first impression, and you want to hook your reader. If the introduction isn’t effective, the reader might not even bother to read the rest of the essay.

That’s why it’s important to be thoughtful and deliberate with the words you choose at the beginning of your essay.

Many students use a quote in the introductory paragraph to establish credibility and set the tone for the rest of the essay.

When you’re referencing another author or speaker, try using some of these phrases:

To use the words of X

According to X

As X states

Example: To use the words of Hillary Clinton, “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health.”

Near the end of the introduction, you should state the thesis to explain the central point of your paper.

If you’re not sure how to introduce your thesis, try using some of these phrases:

In this essay, I will…

The purpose of this essay…

This essay discusses…

In this paper, I put forward the claim that…

There are three main arguments for…

Phrases to introduce a thesis

Example: In this essay, I will explain why dress codes in public schools are detrimental to students.

After you’ve stated your thesis, it’s time to start presenting the arguments you’ll use to back up that central idea.

When you’re introducing the first of a series of arguments, you can use the following words:

First and foremost

First of all

To begin with

Example: First , consider the effects that this new social security policy would have on low-income taxpayers.

All these words and phrases will help you create a more successful introduction and convince your audience to read on.

The body of your essay is where you’ll explain your core arguments and present your evidence.

It’s important to choose words and phrases for the body of your essay that will help the reader understand your position and convince them you’ve done your research.

Let’s look at some different types of words and phrases that you can use in the body of your essay, as well as some examples of what these words look like in a sentence.

Transition Words and Phrases

Transitioning from one argument to another is crucial for a good essay.

It’s important to guide your reader from one idea to the next so they don’t get lost or feel like you’re jumping around at random.

Transition phrases and linking words show your reader you’re about to move from one argument to the next, smoothing out their reading experience. They also make your writing look more professional.

The simplest transition involves moving from one idea to a separate one that supports the same overall argument. Try using these phrases when you want to introduce a second correlating idea:


In addition


Another key thing to remember

In the same way


Example: Additionally , public parks increase property value because home buyers prefer houses that are located close to green, open spaces.

Another type of transition involves restating. It’s often useful to restate complex ideas in simpler terms to help the reader digest them. When you’re restating an idea, you can use the following words:

In other words

To put it another way

That is to say

To put it more simply

Example: “The research showed that 53% of students surveyed expressed a mild or strong preference for more on-campus housing. In other words , over half the students wanted more dormitory options.”

Often, you’ll need to provide examples to illustrate your point more clearly for the reader. When you’re about to give an example of something you just said, you can use the following words:

For instance

To give an illustration of

To exemplify

To demonstrate

As evidence

Example: Humans have long tried to exert control over our natural environment. For instance , engineers reversed the Chicago River in 1900, causing it to permanently flow backward.

Sometimes, you’ll need to explain the impact or consequence of something you’ve just said.

When you’re drawing a conclusion from evidence you’ve presented, try using the following words:

As a result


As you can see

This suggests that

It follows that

It can be seen that

For this reason

For all of those reasons


Example: “There wasn’t enough government funding to support the rest of the physics experiment. Thus , the team was forced to shut down their experiment in 1996.”

Phrases to draw conclusions

When introducing an idea that bolsters one you’ve already stated, or adds another important aspect to that same argument, you can use the following words:

What’s more

Not only…but also

Not to mention

To say nothing of

Another key point

Example: The volcanic eruption disrupted hundreds of thousands of people. Moreover , it impacted the local flora and fauna as well, causing nearly a hundred species to go extinct.

Often, you'll want to present two sides of the same argument. When you need to compare and contrast ideas, you can use the following words:

On the one hand / on the other hand


In contrast to

On the contrary

By contrast

In comparison

Example: On the one hand , the Black Death was undoubtedly a tragedy because it killed millions of Europeans. On the other hand , it created better living conditions for the peasants who survived.

Finally, when you’re introducing a new angle that contradicts your previous idea, you can use the following phrases:

Having said that

Differing from

In spite of

With this in mind

Provided that




Example: Shakespearean plays are classic works of literature that have stood the test of time. Having said that , I would argue that Shakespeare isn’t the most accessible form of literature to teach students in the twenty-first century.

Good essays include multiple types of logic. You can use a combination of the transitions above to create a strong, clear structure throughout the body of your essay.

Strong Verbs for Academic Writing

Verbs are especially important for writing clear essays. Often, you can convey a nuanced meaning simply by choosing the right verb.

You should use strong verbs that are precise and dynamic. Whenever possible, you should use an unambiguous verb, rather than a generic verb.

For example, alter and fluctuate are stronger verbs than change , because they give the reader more descriptive detail.

Here are some useful verbs that will help make your essay shine.

Verbs that show change:


Verbs that relate to causing or impacting something:

Verbs that show increase:

Verbs that show decrease:


Verbs that relate to parts of a whole:

Comprises of

Is composed of




Verbs that show a negative stance:


Verbs that show a negative stance

Verbs that show a positive stance:


Verbs that relate to drawing conclusions from evidence:



Verbs that relate to thinking and analysis:




Verbs that relate to showing information in a visual format:

Useful Adjectives and Adverbs for Academic Essays

You should use adjectives and adverbs more sparingly than verbs when writing essays, since they sometimes add unnecessary fluff to sentences.

However, choosing the right adjectives and adverbs can help add detail and sophistication to your essay.

Sometimes you'll need to use an adjective to show that a finding or argument is useful and should be taken seriously. Here are some adjectives that create positive emphasis:


Other times, you'll need to use an adjective to show that a finding or argument is harmful or ineffective. Here are some adjectives that create a negative emphasis:






Finally, you might need to use an adverb to lend nuance to a sentence, or to express a specific degree of certainty. Here are some examples of adverbs that are often used in essays:






Using these words will help you successfully convey the key points you want to express. Once you’ve nailed the body of your essay, it’s time to move on to the conclusion.

The conclusion of your paper is important for synthesizing the arguments you’ve laid out and restating your thesis.

In your concluding paragraph, try using some of these essay words:

In conclusion

To summarize

In a nutshell

Given the above

As described

All things considered

Example: In conclusion , it’s imperative that we take action to address climate change before we lose our coral reefs forever.

In addition to simply summarizing the key points from the body of your essay, you should also add some final takeaways. Give the reader your final opinion and a bit of a food for thought.

To place emphasis on a certain point or a key fact, use these essay words:






It should be noted

On the whole

Example: Ada Lovelace is unquestionably a powerful role model for young girls around the world, and more of our public school curricula should include her as a historical figure.

These concluding phrases will help you finish writing your essay in a strong, confident way.

There are many useful essay words out there that we didn't include in this article, because they are specific to certain topics.

If you're writing about biology, for example, you will need to use different terminology than if you're writing about literature.

So how do you improve your vocabulary skills?

The vocabulary you use in your academic writing is a toolkit you can build up over time, as long as you take the time to learn new words.

One way to increase your vocabulary is by looking up words you don’t know when you’re reading.

Try reading more books and academic articles in the field you’re writing about and jotting down all the new words you find. You can use these words to bolster your own essays.

You can also consult a dictionary or a thesaurus. When you’re using a word you’re not confident about, researching its meaning and common synonyms can help you make sure it belongs in your essay.

Don't be afraid of using simpler words. Good essay writing boils down to choosing the best word to convey what you need to say, not the fanciest word possible.

Finally, you can use ProWritingAid’s synonym tool or essay checker to find more precise and sophisticated vocabulary. Click on weak words in your essay to find stronger alternatives.

ProWritingAid offering synonyms for great

There you have it: our compilation of the best words and phrases to use in your next essay . Good luck!

synonym for to conclude in an essay

Good writing = better grades

ProWritingAid will help you improve the style, strength, and clarity of all your assignments.

Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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  • Transition Words & Phrases | List & Examples

Transition Words & Phrases | List & Examples

Published on May 29, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on August 23, 2023.

Transition words and phrases (also called linking words, connecting words, or transitional words) are used to link together different ideas in your text. They help the reader to follow your arguments by expressing the relationships between different sentences or parts of a sentence.

The proposed solution to the problem did not work. Therefore , we attempted a second solution. However , this solution was also unsuccessful.

For clear writing, it’s essential to understand the meaning of transition words and use them correctly.

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Table of contents

When and how to use transition words, types and examples of transition words, common mistakes with transition words, other interesting articles.

Transition words commonly appear at the start of a new sentence or clause (followed by a comma ), serving to express how this clause relates to the previous one.

Transition words can also appear in the middle of a clause. It’s important to place them correctly to convey the meaning you intend.

Example text with and without transition words

The text below describes all the events it needs to, but it does not use any transition words to connect them. Because of this, it’s not clear exactly how these different events are related or what point the author is making by telling us about them.

If we add some transition words at appropriate moments, the text reads more smoothly and the relationship among the events described becomes clearer.

Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Consequently , France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The Soviet Union initially worked with Germany in order to partition Poland. However , Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

Don’t overuse transition words

While transition words are essential to clear writing, it’s possible to use too many of them. Consider the following example, in which the overuse of linking words slows down the text and makes it feel repetitive.

In this case the best way to fix the problem is to simplify the text so that fewer linking words are needed.

The key to using transition words effectively is striking the right balance. It is difficult to follow the logic of a text with no transition words, but a text where every sentence begins with a transition word can feel over-explained.

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There are four main types of transition word: additive, adversative, causal, and sequential. Within each category, words are divided into several more specific functions.

Remember that transition words with similar meanings are not necessarily interchangeable. It’s important to understand the meaning of all the transition words you use. If unsure, consult a dictionary to find the precise definition.

Additive transition words

Additive transition words introduce new information or examples. They can be used to expand upon, compare with, or clarify the preceding text.

Adversative transition words

Adversative transition words always signal a contrast of some kind. They can be used to introduce information that disagrees or contrasts with the preceding text.

Causal transition words

Causal transition words are used to describe cause and effect. They can be used to express purpose, consequence, and condition.

Sequential transition words

Sequential transition words indicate a sequence, whether it’s the order in which events occurred chronologically or the order you’re presenting them in your text. They can be used for signposting in academic texts.

Transition words are often used incorrectly. Make sure you understand the proper usage of transition words and phrases, and remember that words with similar meanings don’t necessarily work the same way grammatically.

Misused transition words can make your writing unclear or illogical. Your audience will be easily lost if you misrepresent the connections between your sentences and ideas.

Confused use of therefore

“Therefore” and similar cause-and-effect words are used to state that something is the result of, or follows logically from, the previous. Make sure not to use these words in a way that implies illogical connections.

  • We asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their work from 1 to 10. Therefore , the average satisfaction among participants was 7.5.

The use of “therefore” in this example is illogical: it suggests that the result of 7.5 follows logically from the question being asked, when in fact many other results were possible. To fix this, we simply remove the word “therefore.”

  • We asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their work from 1 to 10. The average satisfaction among participants was 7.5.

Starting a sentence with also , and , or so

While the words “also,” “and,” and “so” are used in academic writing, they are considered too informal when used at the start of a sentence.

  • Also , a second round of testing was carried out.

To fix this issue, we can either move the transition word to a different point in the sentence or use a more formal alternative.

  • A second round of testing was also carried out.
  • Additionally , a second round of testing was carried out.

Transition words creating sentence fragments

Words like “although” and “because” are called subordinating conjunctions . This means that they introduce clauses which cannot stand on their own. A clause introduced by one of these words should always follow or be followed by another clause in the same sentence.

The second sentence in this example is a fragment, because it consists only of the “although” clause.

  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed. Although other researchers disagree.

We can fix this in two different ways. One option is to combine the two sentences into one using a comma. The other option is to use a different transition word that does not create this problem, like “however.”

  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed, although other researchers disagree.
  • Smith (2015) argues that the period should be reassessed. However , other researchers disagree.

And vs. as well as

Students often use the phrase “ as well as ” in place of “and,” but its usage is slightly different. Using “and” suggests that the things you’re listing are of equal importance, while “as well as” introduces additional information that is less important.

  • Chapter 1 discusses some background information on Woolf, as well as presenting my analysis of To the Lighthouse .

In this example, the analysis is more important than the background information. To fix this mistake, we can use “and,” or we can change the order of the sentence so that the most important information comes first. Note that we add a comma before “as well as” but not before “and.”

  • Chapter 1 discusses some background information on Woolf and presents my analysis of To the Lighthouse .
  • Chapter 1 presents my analysis of To the Lighthouse , as well as discussing some background information on Woolf.

Note that in fixed phrases like “both x and y ,” you must use “and,” not “as well as.”

  • Both my results as well as my interpretations are presented below.
  • Both my results and my interpretations are presented below.

Use of and/or

The combination of transition words “and/or” should generally be avoided in academic writing. It makes your text look messy and is usually unnecessary to your meaning.

First consider whether you really do mean “and/or” and not just “and” or “or.” If you are certain that you need both, it’s best to separate them to make your meaning as clear as possible.

  • Participants were asked whether they used the bus and/or the train.
  • Participants were asked whether they used the bus, the train, or both.

Archaic transition words

Words like “hereby,” “therewith,” and most others formed by the combination of “here,” “there,” or “where” with a preposition are typically avoided in modern academic writing. Using them makes your writing feel old-fashioned and strained and can sometimes obscure your meaning.

  • Poverty is best understood as a disease. Hereby , we not only see that it is hereditary, but acknowledge its devastating effects on a person’s health.

These words should usually be replaced with a more explicit phrasing expressing how the current statement relates to the preceding one.

  • Poverty is best understood as a disease. Understanding it as such , we not only see that it is hereditary, but also acknowledge its devastating effects on a person’s health.

Using a paraphrasing tool for clear writing

With the use of certain tools, you can make your writing clear. One of these tools is a paraphrasing tool . One thing the tool does is help your sentences make more sense. It has different modes where it checks how your text can be improved. For example, automatically adding transition words where needed.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or writing rules make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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Synonyms and antonyms of in conclusion in English

In conclusion.


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  • to conclude

adverb as in in conclusion

Weak matches

adverb as in lastly

Strong matches

  • in conclusion

adverb as in lastly/last

  • bringing up rear
  • in the rear

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Related words.

Words related to to conclude are not direct synonyms, but are associated with the word to conclude . Browse related words to learn more about word associations.

adverb as in finally

  • lastly/last

adverb as in in the end

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On this page you'll find 27 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to to conclude, such as: last, and lastly.

From Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

Synonyms of conclude

  • as in to end
  • as in to stop
  • as in to arrange
  • as in to decide
  • as in to understand
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Thesaurus Definition of conclude

Synonyms & Similar Words

  • round (off or out)
  • ring down the curtain (on)

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

  • discontinue
  • bite the dust
  • refrain (from)
  • desist (from)
  • lay off (of)
  • pack (up or in)
  • peter (out)
  • settle (on or upon)
  • renegotiate
  • horse - trade
  • hash (over)
  • contemplate
  • think (about or over)
  • single (out)
  • mull (over)
  • shilly - shally
  • extrapolate
  • draw a conclusion
  • rationalize
  • philosophize

Synonym Chooser

How does the verb conclude differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of conclude are close , complete , end , finish , and terminate . While all these words mean "to bring or come to a stopping point or limit," conclude may imply a formal closing (as of a meeting).

Where would close be a reasonable alternative to conclude ?

While the synonyms close and conclude are close in meaning, close usually implies that something has been in some way open as well as unfinished.

When is it sensible to use complete instead of conclude ?

The meanings of complete and conclude largely overlap; however, complete implies the removal of all deficiencies or a successful finishing of what has been undertaken.

When might end be a better fit than conclude ?

The synonyms end and conclude are sometimes interchangeable, but end conveys a strong sense of finality.

In what contexts can finish take the place of conclude ?

The words finish and conclude can be used in similar contexts, but finish may stress completion of a final step in a process.

When could terminate be used to replace conclude ?

In some situations, the words terminate and conclude are roughly equivalent. However, terminate implies the setting of a limit in time or space.

Thesaurus Entries Near conclude

Cite this entry.

“Conclude.” Thesaurus , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Mar. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on conclude

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One of the most common questions we receive at the Writing Center is “what am I supposed to do in my conclusion?” This is a difficult question to answer because there’s no one right answer to what belongs in a conclusion. How you conclude your paper will depend on where you started—and where you traveled. It will also depend on the conventions and expectations of the discipline in which you are writing. For example, while the conclusion to a STEM paper could focus on questions for further study, the conclusion of a literature paper could include a quotation from your central text that can now be understood differently in light of what has been discussed in the paper. You should consult your instructor about expectations for conclusions in a particular discipline.

With that in mind, here are some general guidelines you might find helpful to use as you think about your conclusion.  

Begin with the “what”  

In a short paper—even a research paper—you don’t need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary. Or it may come in the form of a sentence that brings your readers back to your thesis or main idea and reminds your readers where you began and how far you have traveled.

So, for example, in a paper about the relationship between ADHD and rejection sensitivity, Vanessa Roser begins by introducing readers to the fact that researchers have studied the relationship between the two conditions and then provides her explanation of that relationship. Here’s her thesis: “While socialization may indeed be an important factor in RS, I argue that individuals with ADHD may also possess a neurological predisposition to RS that is exacerbated by the differing executive and emotional regulation characteristic of ADHD.”

In her final paragraph, Roser reminds us of where she started by echoing her thesis: “This literature demonstrates that, as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Highlight the “so what”  

At the beginning of your paper, you explain to your readers what’s at stake—why they should care about the argument you’re making. In your conclusion, you can bring readers back to those stakes by reminding them why your argument is important in the first place. You can also draft a few sentences that put those stakes into a new or broader context.

In the conclusion to her paper about ADHD and RS, Roser echoes the stakes she established in her introduction—that research into connections between ADHD and RS has led to contradictory results, raising questions about the “behavioral mediation hypothesis.”

She writes, “as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Leave your readers with the “now what”  

After the “what” and the “so what,” you should leave your reader with some final thoughts. If you have written a strong introduction, your readers will know why you have been arguing what you have been arguing—and why they should care. And if you’ve made a good case for your thesis, then your readers should be in a position to see things in a new way, understand new questions, or be ready for something that they weren’t ready for before they read your paper.

In her conclusion, Roser offers two “now what” statements. First, she explains that it is important to recognize that the flawed behavioral mediation hypothesis “seems to place a degree of fault on the individual. It implies that individuals with ADHD must have elicited such frequent or intense rejection by virtue of their inadequate social skills, erasing the possibility that they may simply possess a natural sensitivity to emotion.” She then highlights the broader implications for treatment of people with ADHD, noting that recognizing the actual connection between rejection sensitivity and ADHD “has profound implications for understanding how individuals with ADHD might best be treated in educational settings, by counselors, family, peers, or even society as a whole.”

To find your own “now what” for your essay’s conclusion, try asking yourself these questions:

  • What can my readers now understand, see in a new light, or grapple with that they would not have understood in the same way before reading my paper? Are we a step closer to understanding a larger phenomenon or to understanding why what was at stake is so important?  
  • What questions can I now raise that would not have made sense at the beginning of my paper? Questions for further research? Other ways that this topic could be approached?  
  • Are there other applications for my research? Could my questions be asked about different data in a different context? Could I use my methods to answer a different question?  
  • What action should be taken in light of this argument? What action do I predict will be taken or could lead to a solution?  
  • What larger context might my argument be a part of?  

What to avoid in your conclusion  

  • a complete restatement of all that you have said in your paper.  
  • a substantial counterargument that you do not have space to refute; you should introduce counterarguments before your conclusion.  
  • an apology for what you have not said. If you need to explain the scope of your paper, you should do this sooner—but don’t apologize for what you have not discussed in your paper.  
  • fake transitions like “in conclusion” that are followed by sentences that aren’t actually conclusions. (“In conclusion, I have now demonstrated that my thesis is correct.”)
  • picture_as_pdf Conclusions

End the Phone-Based Childhood Now

The environment in which kids grow up today is hostile to human development.

Two teens sit on a bed looking at their phones

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S omething went suddenly and horribly wrong for adolescents in the early 2010s. By now you’ve likely seen the statistics : Rates of depression and anxiety in the United States—fairly stable in the 2000s—rose by more than 50 percent in many studies from 2010 to 2019. The suicide rate rose 48 percent for adolescents ages 10 to 19. For girls ages 10 to 14, it rose 131 percent.

The problem was not limited to the U.S.: Similar patterns emerged around the same time in Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand , the Nordic countries , and beyond . By a variety of measures and in a variety of countries, the members of Generation Z (born in and after 1996) are suffering from anxiety, depression, self-harm, and related disorders at levels higher than any other generation for which we have data.

The decline in mental health is just one of many signs that something went awry. Loneliness and friendlessness among American teens began to surge around 2012. Academic achievement went down, too. According to “The Nation’s Report Card,” scores in reading and math began to decline for U.S. students after 2012, reversing decades of slow but generally steady increase. PISA, the major international measure of educational trends, shows that declines in math, reading, and science happened globally, also beginning in the early 2010s.

Read: It sure looks like phones are making students dumber

As the oldest members of Gen Z reach their late 20s, their troubles are carrying over into adulthood. Young adults are dating less , having less sex, and showing less interest in ever having children than prior generations. They are more likely to live with their parents. They were less likely to get jobs as teens , and managers say they are harder to work with. Many of these trends began with earlier generations, but most of them accelerated with Gen Z.

Surveys show that members of Gen Z are shyer and more risk averse than previous generations, too, and risk aversion may make them less ambitious. In an interview last May , OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman and Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison noted that, for the first time since the 1970s, none of Silicon Valley’s preeminent entrepreneurs are under 30. “Something has really gone wrong,” Altman said. In a famously young industry, he was baffled by the sudden absence of great founders in their 20s.

Generations are not monolithic, of course. Many young people are flourishing. Taken as a whole, however, Gen Z is in poor mental health and is lagging behind previous generations on many important metrics. And if a generation is doing poorly––if it is more anxious and depressed and is starting families, careers, and important companies at a substantially lower rate than previous generations––then the sociological and economic consequences will be profound for the entire society.

graph showing rates of self-harm in children

What happened in the early 2010s that altered adolescent development and worsened mental health? Theories abound , but the fact that similar trends are found in many countries worldwide means that events and trends that are specific to the United States cannot be the main story.

I think the answer can be stated simply, although the underlying psychology is complex: Those were the years when adolescents in rich countries traded in their flip phones for smartphones and moved much more of their social lives online—particularly onto social-media platforms designed for virality and addiction . Once young people began carrying the entire internet in their pockets, available to them day and night, it altered their daily experiences and developmental pathways across the board. Friendship, dating, sexuality, exercise, sleep, academics, politics, family dynamics, identity—all were affected. Life changed rapidly for younger children, too, as they began to get access to their parents’ smartphones and, later, got their own iPads, laptops, and even smartphones during elementary school.

Jonathan Haidt: Get phones out of schools now

As a social psychologist who has long studied social and moral development, I have been involved in debates about the effects of digital technology for years. Typically, the scientific questions have been framed somewhat narrowly, to make them easier to address with data. For example, do adolescents who consume more social media have higher levels of depression? Does using a smartphone just before bedtime interfere with sleep? The answer to these questions is usually found to be yes, although the size of the relationship is often statistically small, which has led some researchers to conclude that these new technologies are not responsible for the gigantic increases in mental illness that began in the early 2010s.

But before we can evaluate the evidence on any one potential avenue of harm, we need to step back and ask a broader question: What is childhood––including adolescence––and how did it change when smartphones moved to the center of it? If we take a more holistic view of what childhood is and what young children, tweens, and teens need to do to mature into competent adults, the picture becomes much clearer. Smartphone-based life, it turns out, alters or interferes with a great number of developmental processes.

The intrusion of smartphones and social media are not the only changes that have deformed childhood. There’s an important backstory, beginning as long ago as the 1980s, when we started systematically depriving children and adolescents of freedom, unsupervised play, responsibility, and opportunities for risk taking, all of which promote competence, maturity, and mental health. But the change in childhood accelerated in the early 2010s, when an already independence-deprived generation was lured into a new virtual universe that seemed safe to parents but in fact is more dangerous, in many respects, than the physical world.

My claim is that the new phone-based childhood that took shape roughly 12 years ago is making young people sick and blocking their progress to flourishing in adulthood. We need a dramatic cultural correction, and we need it now.

Brain development is sometimes said to be “experience-expectant,” because specific parts of the brain show increased plasticity during periods of life when an animal’s brain can “expect” to have certain kinds of experiences. You can see this with baby geese, who will imprint on whatever mother-sized object moves in their vicinity just after they hatch. You can see it with human children, who are able to learn languages quickly and take on the local accent, but only through early puberty; after that, it’s hard to learn a language and sound like a native speaker. There is also some evidence of a sensitive period for cultural learning more generally. Japanese children who spent a few years in California in the 1970s came to feel “American” in their identity and ways of interacting only if they attended American schools for a few years between ages 9 and 15. If they left before age 9, there was no lasting impact. If they didn’t arrive until they were 15, it was too late; they didn’t come to feel American.

Human childhood is an extended cultural apprenticeship with different tasks at different ages all the way through puberty. Once we see it this way, we can identify factors that promote or impede the right kinds of learning at each age. For children of all ages, one of the most powerful drivers of learning is the strong motivation to play. Play is the work of childhood, and all young mammals have the same job: to wire up their brains by playing vigorously and often, practicing the moves and skills they’ll need as adults. Kittens will play-pounce on anything that looks like a mouse tail. Human children will play games such as tag and sharks and minnows, which let them practice both their predator skills and their escaping-from-predator skills. Adolescents will play sports with greater intensity, and will incorporate playfulness into their social interactions—flirting, teasing, and developing inside jokes that bond friends together. Hundreds of studies on young rats, monkeys, and humans show that young mammals want to play, need to play, and end up socially, cognitively, and emotionally impaired when they are deprived of play .

One crucial aspect of play is physical risk taking. Children and adolescents must take risks and fail—often—in environments in which failure is not very costly. This is how they extend their abilities, overcome their fears, learn to estimate risk, and learn to cooperate in order to take on larger challenges later. The ever-present possibility of getting hurt while running around, exploring, play-fighting, or getting into a real conflict with another group adds an element of thrill, and thrilling play appears to be the most effective kind for overcoming childhood anxieties and building social, emotional, and physical competence. The desire for risk and thrill increases in the teen years, when failure might carry more serious consequences. Children of all ages need to choose the risk they are ready for at a given moment. Young people who are deprived of opportunities for risk taking and independent exploration will, on average, develop into more anxious and risk-averse adults .

From the April 2014 issue: The overprotected kid

Human childhood and adolescence evolved outdoors, in a physical world full of dangers and opportunities. Its central activities––play, exploration, and intense socializing––were largely unsupervised by adults, allowing children to make their own choices, resolve their own conflicts, and take care of one another. Shared adventures and shared adversity bound young people together into strong friendship clusters within which they mastered the social dynamics of small groups, which prepared them to master bigger challenges and larger groups later on.

And then we changed childhood.

The changes started slowly in the late 1970s and ’80s, before the arrival of the internet, as many parents in the U.S. grew fearful that their children would be harmed or abducted if left unsupervised. Such crimes have always been extremely rare, but they loomed larger in parents’ minds thanks in part to rising levels of street crime combined with the arrival of cable TV, which enabled round-the-clock coverage of missing-children cases. A general decline in social capital ––the degree to which people knew and trusted their neighbors and institutions–– exacerbated parental fears . Meanwhile, rising competition for college admissions encouraged more intensive forms of parenting . In the 1990s, American parents began pulling their children indoors or insisting that afternoons be spent in adult-run enrichment activities. Free play, independent exploration, and teen-hangout time declined.

In recent decades, seeing unchaperoned children outdoors has become so novel that when one is spotted in the wild, some adults feel it is their duty to call the police. In 2015, the Pew Research Center found that parents, on average, believed that children should be at least 10 years old to play unsupervised in front of their house, and that kids should be 14 before being allowed to go unsupervised to a public park. Most of these same parents had enjoyed joyous and unsupervised outdoor play by the age of 7 or 8.

But overprotection is only part of the story. The transition away from a more independent childhood was facilitated by steady improvements in digital technology, which made it easier and more inviting for young people to spend a lot more time at home, indoors, and alone in their rooms. Eventually, tech companies got access to children 24/7. They developed exciting virtual activities, engineered for “engagement,” that are nothing like the real-world experiences young brains evolved to expect.

Triptych: teens on their phones at the mall, park, and bedroom

The first wave came ashore in the 1990s with the arrival of dial-up internet access, which made personal computers good for something beyond word processing and basic games. By 2003, 55 percent of American households had a computer with (slow) internet access. Rates of adolescent depression, loneliness, and other measures of poor mental health did not rise in this first wave. If anything, they went down a bit. Millennial teens (born 1981 through 1995), who were the first to go through puberty with access to the internet, were psychologically healthier and happier, on average, than their older siblings or parents in Generation X (born 1965 through 1980).

The second wave began to rise in the 2000s, though its full force didn’t hit until the early 2010s. It began rather innocently with the introduction of social-media platforms that helped people connect with their friends. Posting and sharing content became much easier with sites such as Friendster (launched in 2003), Myspace (2003), and Facebook (2004).

Teens embraced social media soon after it came out, but the time they could spend on these sites was limited in those early years because the sites could only be accessed from a computer, often the family computer in the living room. Young people couldn’t access social media (and the rest of the internet) from the school bus, during class time, or while hanging out with friends outdoors. Many teens in the early-to-mid-2000s had cellphones, but these were basic phones (many of them flip phones) that had no internet access. Typing on them was difficult––they had only number keys. Basic phones were tools that helped Millennials meet up with one another in person or talk with each other one-on-one. I have seen no evidence to suggest that basic cellphones harmed the mental health of Millennials.

It was not until the introduction of the iPhone (2007), the App Store (2008), and high-speed internet (which reached 50 percent of American homes in 2007 )—and the corresponding pivot to mobile made by many providers of social media, video games, and porn—that it became possible for adolescents to spend nearly every waking moment online. The extraordinary synergy among these innovations was what powered the second technological wave. In 2011, only 23 percent of teens had a smartphone. By 2015, that number had risen to 73 percent , and a quarter of teens said they were online “almost constantly.” Their younger siblings in elementary school didn’t usually have their own smartphones, but after its release in 2010, the iPad quickly became a staple of young children’s daily lives. It was in this brief period, from 2010 to 2015, that childhood in America (and many other countries) was rewired into a form that was more sedentary, solitary, virtual, and incompatible with healthy human development.

In the 2000s, Silicon Valley and its world-changing inventions were a source of pride and excitement in America. Smart and ambitious young people around the world wanted to move to the West Coast to be part of the digital revolution. Tech-company founders such as Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin were lauded as gods, or at least as modern Prometheans, bringing humans godlike powers. The Arab Spring bloomed in 2011 with the help of decentralized social platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. When pundits and entrepreneurs talked about the power of social media to transform society, it didn’t sound like a dark prophecy.

You have to put yourself back in this heady time to understand why adults acquiesced so readily to the rapid transformation of childhood. Many parents had concerns , even then, about what their children were doing online, especially because of the internet’s ability to put children in contact with strangers. But there was also a lot of excitement about the upsides of this new digital world. If computers and the internet were the vanguards of progress, and if young people––widely referred to as “digital natives”––were going to live their lives entwined with these technologies, then why not give them a head start? I remember how exciting it was to see my 2-year-old son master the touch-and-swipe interface of my first iPhone in 2008. I thought I could see his neurons being woven together faster as a result of the stimulation it brought to his brain, compared to the passivity of watching television or the slowness of building a block tower. I thought I could see his future job prospects improving.

Touchscreen devices were also a godsend for harried parents. Many of us discovered that we could have peace at a restaurant, on a long car trip, or at home while making dinner or replying to emails if we just gave our children what they most wanted: our smartphones and tablets. We saw that everyone else was doing it and figured it must be okay.

It was the same for older children, desperate to join their friends on social-media platforms, where the minimum age to open an account was set by law to 13, even though no research had been done to establish the safety of these products for minors. Because the platforms did nothing (and still do nothing) to verify the stated age of new-account applicants, any 10-year-old could open multiple accounts without parental permission or knowledge, and many did. Facebook and later Instagram became places where many sixth and seventh graders were hanging out and socializing. If parents did find out about these accounts, it was too late. Nobody wanted their child to be isolated and alone, so parents rarely forced their children to shut down their accounts.

We had no idea what we were doing.

The numbers are hard to believe. The most recent Gallup data show that American teens spend about five hours a day just on social-media platforms (including watching videos on TikTok and YouTube). Add in all the other phone- and screen-based activities, and the number rises to somewhere between seven and nine hours a day, on average . The numbers are even higher in single-parent and low-income families, and among Black, Hispanic, and Native American families.

These very high numbers do not include time spent in front of screens for school or homework, nor do they include all the time adolescents spend paying only partial attention to events in the real world while thinking about what they’re missing on social media or waiting for their phones to ping. Pew reports that in 2022, one-third of teens said they were on one of the major social-media sites “almost constantly,” and nearly half said the same of the internet in general. For these heavy users, nearly every waking hour is an hour absorbed, in full or in part, by their devices.

overhead image of teens hands with phones

In Thoreau’s terms, how much of life is exchanged for all this screen time? Arguably, most of it. Everything else in an adolescent’s day must get squeezed down or eliminated entirely to make room for the vast amount of content that is consumed, and for the hundreds of “friends,” “followers,” and other network connections that must be serviced with texts, posts, comments, likes, snaps, and direct messages. I recently surveyed my students at NYU, and most of them reported that the very first thing they do when they open their eyes in the morning is check their texts, direct messages, and social-media feeds. It’s also the last thing they do before they close their eyes at night. And it’s a lot of what they do in between.

The amount of time that adolescents spend sleeping declined in the early 2010s , and many studies tie sleep loss directly to the use of devices around bedtime, particularly when they’re used to scroll through social media . Exercise declined , too, which is unfortunate because exercise, like sleep, improves both mental and physical health. Book reading has been declining for decades, pushed aside by digital alternatives, but the decline, like so much else, sped up in the early 2010 s. With passive entertainment always available, adolescent minds likely wander less than they used to; contemplation and imagination might be placed on the list of things winnowed down or crowded out.

But perhaps the most devastating cost of the new phone-based childhood was the collapse of time spent interacting with other people face-to-face. A study of how Americans spend their time found that, before 2010, young people (ages 15 to 24) reported spending far more time with their friends (about two hours a day, on average, not counting time together at school) than did older people (who spent just 30 to 60 minutes with friends). Time with friends began decreasing for young people in the 2000s, but the drop accelerated in the 2010s, while it barely changed for older people. By 2019, young people’s time with friends had dropped to just 67 minutes a day. It turns out that Gen Z had been socially distancing for many years and had mostly completed the project by the time COVID-19 struck.

Read: What happens when kids don’t see their peers for months

You might question the importance of this decline. After all, isn’t much of this online time spent interacting with friends through texting, social media, and multiplayer video games? Isn’t that just as good?

Some of it surely is, and virtual interactions offer unique benefits too, especially for young people who are geographically or socially isolated. But in general, the virtual world lacks many of the features that make human interactions in the real world nutritious, as we might say, for physical, social, and emotional development. In particular, real-world relationships and social interactions are characterized by four features—typical for hundreds of thousands of years—that online interactions either distort or erase.

First, real-world interactions are embodied , meaning that we use our hands and facial expressions to communicate, and we learn to respond to the body language of others. Virtual interactions, in contrast, mostly rely on language alone. No matter how many emojis are offered as compensation, the elimination of communication channels for which we have eons of evolutionary programming is likely to produce adults who are less comfortable and less skilled at interacting in person.

Second, real-world interactions are synchronous ; they happen at the same time. As a result, we learn subtle cues about timing and conversational turn taking. Synchronous interactions make us feel closer to the other person because that’s what getting “in sync” does. Texts, posts, and many other virtual interactions lack synchrony. There is less real laughter, more room for misinterpretation, and more stress after a comment that gets no immediate response.

Third, real-world interactions primarily involve one‐to‐one communication , or sometimes one-to-several. But many virtual communications are broadcast to a potentially huge audience. Online, each person can engage in dozens of asynchronous interactions in parallel, which interferes with the depth achieved in all of them. The sender’s motivations are different, too: With a large audience, one’s reputation is always on the line; an error or poor performance can damage social standing with large numbers of peers. These communications thus tend to be more performative and anxiety-inducing than one-to-one conversations.

Finally, real-world interactions usually take place within communities that have a high bar for entry and exit , so people are strongly motivated to invest in relationships and repair rifts when they happen. But in many virtual networks, people can easily block others or quit when they are displeased. Relationships within such networks are usually more disposable.

From the September 2015 issue: The coddling of the American mind

These unsatisfying and anxiety-producing features of life online should be recognizable to most adults. Online interactions can bring out antisocial behavior that people would never display in their offline communities. But if life online takes a toll on adults, just imagine what it does to adolescents in the early years of puberty, when their “experience expectant” brains are rewiring based on feedback from their social interactions.

Kids going through puberty online are likely to experience far more social comparison, self-consciousness, public shaming, and chronic anxiety than adolescents in previous generations, which could potentially set developing brains into a habitual state of defensiveness. The brain contains systems that are specialized for approach (when opportunities beckon) and withdrawal (when threats appear or seem likely). People can be in what we might call “discover mode” or “defend mode” at any moment, but generally not both. The two systems together form a mechanism for quickly adapting to changing conditions, like a thermostat that can activate either a heating system or a cooling system as the temperature fluctuates. Some people’s internal thermostats are generally set to discover mode, and they flip into defend mode only when clear threats arise. These people tend to see the world as full of opportunities. They are happier and less anxious. Other people’s internal thermostats are generally set to defend mode, and they flip into discover mode only when they feel unusually safe. They tend to see the world as full of threats and are more prone to anxiety and depressive disorders.

graph showing rates of disabilities in US college freshman

A simple way to understand the differences between Gen Z and previous generations is that people born in and after 1996 have internal thermostats that were shifted toward defend mode. This is why life on college campuses changed so suddenly when Gen Z arrived, beginning around 2014. Students began requesting “safe spaces” and trigger warnings. They were highly sensitive to “microaggressions” and sometimes claimed that words were “violence.” These trends mystified those of us in older generations at the time, but in hindsight, it all makes sense. Gen Z students found words, ideas, and ambiguous social encounters more threatening than had previous generations of students because we had fundamentally altered their psychological development.

Staying on task while sitting at a computer is hard enough for an adult with a fully developed prefrontal cortex. It is far more difficult for adolescents in front of their laptop trying to do homework. They are probably less intrinsically motivated to stay on task. They’re certainly less able, given their undeveloped prefrontal cortex, and hence it’s easy for any company with an app to lure them away with an offer of social validation or entertainment. Their phones are pinging constantly— one study found that the typical adolescent now gets 237 notifications a day, roughly 15 every waking hour. Sustained attention is essential for doing almost anything big, creative, or valuable, yet young people find their attention chopped up into little bits by notifications offering the possibility of high-pleasure, low-effort digital experiences.

It even happens in the classroom. Studies confirm that when students have access to their phones during class time, they use them, especially for texting and checking social media, and their grades and learning suffer . This might explain why benchmark test scores began to decline in the U.S. and around the world in the early 2010s—well before the pandemic hit.

The neural basis of behavioral addiction to social media or video games is not exactly the same as chemical addiction to cocaine or opioids. Nonetheless, they all involve abnormally heavy and sustained activation of dopamine neurons and reward pathways. Over time, the brain adapts to these high levels of dopamine; when the child is not engaged in digital activity, their brain doesn’t have enough dopamine, and the child experiences withdrawal symptoms. These generally include anxiety, insomnia, and intense irritability. Kids with these kinds of behavioral addictions often become surly and aggressive, and withdraw from their families into their bedrooms and devices.

Social-media and gaming platforms were designed to hook users. How successful are they? How many kids suffer from digital addictions?

The main addiction risks for boys seem to be video games and porn. “ Internet gaming disorder ,” which was added to the main diagnosis manual of psychiatry in 2013 as a condition for further study, describes “significant impairment or distress” in several aspects of life, along with many hallmarks of addiction, including an inability to reduce usage despite attempts to do so. Estimates for the prevalence of IGD range from 7 to 15 percent among adolescent boys and young men. As for porn, a nationally representative survey of American adults published in 2019 found that 7 percent of American men agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am addicted to pornography”—and the rates were higher for the youngest men.

Girls have much lower rates of addiction to video games and porn, but they use social media more intensely than boys do. A study of teens in 29 nations found that between 5 and 15 percent of adolescents engage in what is called “problematic social media use,” which includes symptoms such as preoccupation, withdrawal symptoms, neglect of other areas of life, and lying to parents and friends about time spent on social media. That study did not break down results by gender, but many others have found that rates of “problematic use” are higher for girls.

Jonathan Haidt: The dangerous experiment on teen girls

I don’t want to overstate the risks: Most teens do not become addicted to their phones and video games. But across multiple studies and across genders, rates of problematic use come out in the ballpark of 5 to 15 percent. Is there any other consumer product that parents would let their children use relatively freely if they knew that something like one in 10 kids would end up with a pattern of habitual and compulsive use that disrupted various domains of life and looked a lot like an addiction?

During that crucial sensitive period for cultural learning, from roughly ages 9 through 15, we should be especially thoughtful about who is socializing our children for adulthood. Instead, that’s when most kids get their first smartphone and sign themselves up (with or without parental permission) to consume rivers of content from random strangers. Much of that content is produced by other adolescents, in blocks of a few minutes or a few seconds.

This rerouting of enculturating content has created a generation that is largely cut off from older generations and, to some extent, from the accumulated wisdom of humankind, including knowledge about how to live a flourishing life. Adolescents spend less time steeped in their local or national culture. They are coming of age in a confusing, placeless, ahistorical maelstrom of 30-second stories curated by algorithms designed to mesmerize them. Without solid knowledge of the past and the filtering of good ideas from bad––a process that plays out over many generations––young people will be more prone to believe whatever terrible ideas become popular around them, which might explain why v ideos showing young people reacting positively to Osama bin Laden’s thoughts about America were trending on TikTok last fall.

All this is made worse by the fact that so much of digital public life is an unending supply of micro dramas about somebody somewhere in our country of 340 million people who did something that can fuel an outrage cycle, only to be pushed aside by the next. It doesn’t add up to anything and leaves behind only a distorted sense of human nature and affairs.

When our public life becomes fragmented, ephemeral, and incomprehensible, it is a recipe for anomie, or normlessness. The great French sociologist Émile Durkheim showed long ago that a society that fails to bind its people together with some shared sense of sacredness and common respect for rules and norms is not a society of great individual freedom; it is, rather, a place where disoriented individuals have difficulty setting goals and exerting themselves to achieve them. Durkheim argued that anomie was a major driver of suicide rates in European countries. Modern scholars continue to draw on his work to understand suicide rates today.

graph showing rates of young people who struggle with mental health

Durkheim’s observations are crucial for understanding what happened in the early 2010s. A long-running survey of American teens found that , from 1990 to 2010, high-school seniors became slightly less likely to agree with statements such as “Life often feels meaningless.” But as soon as they adopted a phone-based life and many began to live in the whirlpool of social media, where no stability can be found, every measure of despair increased. From 2010 to 2019, the number who agreed that their lives felt “meaningless” increased by about 70 percent, to more than one in five.

An additional source of evidence comes from Gen Z itself. With all the talk of regulating social media, raising age limits, and getting phones out of schools, you might expect to find many members of Gen Z writing and speaking out in opposition. I’ve looked for such arguments and found hardly any. In contrast, many young adults tell stories of devastation.

Freya India, a 24-year-old British essayist who writes about girls, explains how social-media sites carry girls off to unhealthy places: “It seems like your child is simply watching some makeup tutorials, following some mental health influencers, or experimenting with their identity. But let me tell you: they are on a conveyor belt to someplace bad. Whatever insecurity or vulnerability they are struggling with, they will be pushed further and further into it.” She continues:

Gen Z were the guinea pigs in this uncontrolled global social experiment. We were the first to have our vulnerabilities and insecurities fed into a machine that magnified and refracted them back at us, all the time, before we had any sense of who we were. We didn’t just grow up with algorithms. They raised us. They rearranged our faces. Shaped our identities. Convinced us we were sick.

Rikki Schlott, a 23-year-old American journalist and co-author of The Canceling of the American Mind , writes ,

The day-to-day life of a typical teen or tween today would be unrecognizable to someone who came of age before the smartphone arrived. Zoomers are spending an average of 9 hours daily in this screen-time doom loop—desperate to forget the gaping holes they’re bleeding out of, even if just for … 9 hours a day. Uncomfortable silence could be time to ponder why they’re so miserable in the first place. Drowning it out with algorithmic white noise is far easier.

A 27-year-old man who spent his adolescent years addicted (his word) to video games and pornography sent me this reflection on what that did to him:

I missed out on a lot of stuff in life—a lot of socialization. I feel the effects now: meeting new people, talking to people. I feel that my interactions are not as smooth and fluid as I want. My knowledge of the world (geography, politics, etc.) is lacking. I didn’t spend time having conversations or learning about sports. I often feel like a hollow operating system.

Or consider what Facebook found in a research project involving focus groups of young people, revealed in 2021 by the whistleblower Frances Haugen: “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rates of anxiety and depression among teens,” an internal document said. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

How can it be that an entire generation is hooked on consumer products that so few praise and so many ultimately regret using? Because smartphones and especially social media have put members of Gen Z and their parents into a series of collective-action traps. Once you understand the dynamics of these traps, the escape routes become clear.

diptych: teens on phone on couch and on a swing

Social media, in contrast, applies a lot more pressure on nonusers, at a much younger age and in a more insidious way. Once a few students in any middle school lie about their age and open accounts at age 11 or 12, they start posting photos and comments about themselves and other students. Drama ensues. The pressure on everyone else to join becomes intense. Even a girl who knows, consciously, that Instagram can foster beauty obsession, anxiety, and eating disorders might sooner take those risks than accept the seeming certainty of being out of the loop, clueless, and excluded. And indeed, if she resists while most of her classmates do not, she might, in fact, be marginalized, which puts her at risk for anxiety and depression, though via a different pathway than the one taken by those who use social media heavily. In this way, social media accomplishes a remarkable feat: It even harms adolescents who do not use it.

From the May 2022 issue: Jonathan Haidt on why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid

A recent study led by the University of Chicago economist Leonardo Bursztyn captured the dynamics of the social-media trap precisely. The researchers recruited more than 1,000 college students and asked them how much they’d need to be paid to deactivate their accounts on either Instagram or TikTok for four weeks. That’s a standard economist’s question to try to compute the net value of a product to society. On average, students said they’d need to be paid roughly $50 ($59 for TikTok, $47 for Instagram) to deactivate whichever platform they were asked about. Then the experimenters told the students that they were going to try to get most of the others in their school to deactivate that same platform, offering to pay them to do so as well, and asked, Now how much would you have to be paid to deactivate, if most others did so? The answer, on average, was less than zero. In each case, most students were willing to pay to have that happen.

Social media is all about network effects. Most students are only on it because everyone else is too. Most of them would prefer that nobody be on these platforms. Later in the study, students were asked directly, “Would you prefer to live in a world without Instagram [or TikTok]?” A majority of students said yes––58 percent for each app.

This is the textbook definition of what social scientists call a collective-action problem . It’s what happens when a group would be better off if everyone in the group took a particular action, but each actor is deterred from acting, because unless the others do the same, the personal cost outweighs the benefit. Fishermen considering limiting their catch to avoid wiping out the local fish population are caught in this same kind of trap. If no one else does it too, they just lose profit.

Cigarettes trapped individual smokers with a biological addiction. Social media has trapped an entire generation in a collective-action problem. Early app developers deliberately and knowingly exploited the psychological weaknesses and insecurities of young people to pressure them to consume a product that, upon reflection, many wish they could use less, or not at all.

The trap here is that each child thinks they need a smartphone because “everyone else” has one, and many parents give in because they don’t want their child to feel excluded. But if no one else had a smartphone—or even if, say, only half of the child’s sixth-grade class had one—parents would feel more comfortable providing a basic flip phone (or no phone at all). Delaying round-the-clock internet access until ninth grade (around age 14) as a national or community norm would help to protect adolescents during the very vulnerable first few years of puberty. According to a 2022 British study , these are the years when social-media use is most correlated with poor mental health. Family policies about tablets, laptops, and video-game consoles should be aligned with smartphone restrictions to prevent overuse of other screen activities.

The trap here, as with smartphones, is that each adolescent feels a strong need to open accounts on TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms primarily because that’s where most of their peers are posting and gossiping. But if the majority of adolescents were not on these accounts until they were 16, families and adolescents could more easily resist the pressure to sign up. The delay would not mean that kids younger than 16 could never watch videos on TikTok or YouTube—only that they could not open accounts, give away their data, post their own content, and let algorithms get to know them and their preferences.

Most schools claim that they ban phones, but this usually just means that students aren’t supposed to take their phone out of their pocket during class. Research shows that most students do use their phones during class time. They also use them during lunchtime, free periods, and breaks between classes––times when students could and should be interacting with their classmates face-to-face. The only way to get students’ minds off their phones during the school day is to require all students to put their phones (and other devices that can send or receive texts) into a phone locker or locked pouch at the start of the day. Schools that have gone phone-free always seem to report that it has improved the culture, making students more attentive in class and more interactive with one another. Published studies back them up .

Many parents are afraid to give their children the level of independence and responsibility they themselves enjoyed when they were young, even though rates of homicide, drunk driving, and other physical threats to children are way down in recent decades. Part of the fear comes from the fact that parents look at each other to determine what is normal and therefore safe, and they see few examples of families acting as if a 9-year-old can be trusted to walk to a store without a chaperone. But if many parents started sending their children out to play or run errands, then the norms of what is safe and accepted would change quickly. So would ideas about what constitutes “good parenting.” And if more parents trusted their children with more responsibility––for example, by asking their kids to do more to help out, or to care for others––then the pervasive sense of uselessness now found in surveys of high-school students might begin to dissipate.

It would be a mistake to overlook this fourth norm. If parents don’t replace screen time with real-world experiences involving friends and independent activity, then banning devices will feel like deprivation, not the opening up of a world of opportunities.

The main reason why the phone-based childhood is so harmful is because it pushes aside everything else. Smartphones are experience blockers. Our ultimate goal should not be to remove screens entirely, nor should it be to return childhood to exactly the way it was in 1960. Rather, it should be to create a version of childhood and adolescence that keeps young people anchored in the real world while flourishing in the digital age.

In recent decades, however, Congress has not been good at addressing public concerns when the solutions would displease a powerful and deep-pocketed industry. Governors and state legislators have been much more effective, and their successes might let us evaluate how well various reforms work. But the bottom line is that to change norms, we’re going to need to do most of the work ourselves, in neighborhood groups, schools, and other communities.

Read: Why Congress keeps failing to protect kids online

There are now hundreds of organizations––most of them started by mothers who saw what smartphones had done to their children––that are working to roll back the phone-based childhood or promote a more independent, real-world childhood. (I have assembled a list of many of them.) One that I co-founded, at , suggests a variety of simple programs for parents or schools, such as play club (schools keep the playground open at least one day a week before or after school, and kids sign up for phone-free, mixed-age, unstructured play as a regular weekly activity) and the Let Grow Experience (a series of homework assignments in which students––with their parents’ consent––choose something to do on their own that they’ve never done before, such as walk the dog, climb a tree, walk to a store, or cook dinner).

Even without the help of organizations, parents could break their families out of collective-action traps if they coordinated with the parents of their children’s friends. Together they could create common smartphone rules and organize unsupervised play sessions or encourage hangouts at a home, park, or shopping mall.

teen on her phone in her room

P arents are fed up with what childhood has become. Many are tired of having daily arguments about technologies that were designed to grab hold of their children’s attention and not let go. But the phone-based childhood is not inevitable.

We didn’t know what we were doing in the early 2010s. Now we do. It’s time to end the phone-based childhood.

This article is adapted from Jonathan Haidt’s forthcoming book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness .

synonym for to conclude in an essay

​When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

MrBeast melting but also surrounded by dogs

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The end of the MrBeast era

Jimmy Donaldson warped YouTube in his image — but YouTube is warping him back

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In the fall of 2023, a clip ripped from a video by Tom Simons and reposted on X (formerly Twitter) saw Irish YouTube entertainer Seán “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin strapped to a lie detector test. His friends were grilling him about everything, like whether or not he still enjoyed his job as a YouTuber and how much money he had in the bank. Though sensitive, none of the questions fazed McLoughlin, a video star with millions of subscribers on YouTube. To truly rattle him, his friends had to pull out the big guns — questions that, if answered honestly, would make most squirm. Has YouTube gotten worse as a platform, they probed? Yes, McLoughlin answered, still not missing a beat. And he said Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, YouTube’s biggest creator, was to blame.

Though his friends expected it, McLoughlin’s answer shocked the internet. With a reputation for generous stunts that give ordinary people cars, houses, and thousands of dollars, many think of MrBeast as a kind of philanthropic figure, representing some of the best YouTube has to offer. His branding is at once self-aggrandizing yet selfless; on podcasts he frequently reminds his 241 million subscribers (at the time of publication) that he’s at the top precisely because all he ever does is YouTube, and all he wants to do is entertain people. He lives in his own recording studio . While his free time seems minuscule, the rare times he does pull away from work are for dates with his girlfriend that center around activities that could enrich his videos, because he considers a single hour of a date to be worth $100K had it been dedicated to work instead.

The idea that MrBeast throws all the money he makes — and it’s considerable — back into doing YouTube videos is practically lore. There’s little regard for personal profit, or so he says . He tells viewers that while he employs a sizable percentage of his hometown, he still lives modestly, unlike other rich YouTubers. A segment of his fortune goes toward philanthropy, and in many of his videos he finds a way to give people valuables. Viewers dream of running into MrBeast and his oodles of cash. Creators, meanwhile, can only imagine what it’s like to have the sort of audience reach and clout MrBeast does. He builds wells in Africa , man — how could anyone have anything bad to say about MrBeast? Who would dare, even, to say something negative and risk their own business in an industry as small and collaborative as YouTube? And so, the internet came down on McLoughlin.

The fire wasn’t just from sycophantic passersby; in the replies to the clip, top creators with millions of subscribers came to MrBeast’s defense . There was incredulity, there was indignity. Nobody would say such a thing unless they were jealous or out of their mind, the replies suggested. But McLoughlin seemed to be in a fair state of mind, based on his explanation. And by virtue of having been on YouTube as Jacksepticeye for years up to that point, he was inherently an authority on how the platform has changed. In the Q&A video, McLoughlin says that MrBeast made YouTube worse by shifting the focus to be “more about views, money, and popularity” over having fun. If it wasn’t superficial, McLoughlin argued, MrBeast’s videos would be longer — and we’d see more of him having a good time.

Months later, the caustic exchange is emblematic of an ongoing tension coursing through the heart of YouTube. This tension has only grown more visible as MrBeast’s content has started dominating the platform, signaling a paradigm shift. As YouTube strategist Zackary Smigel explored in a recent video , we’ve seen distinct eras start and end on the platform. At first, YouTube prized authenticity, and the prototypical creator was likely recording out of their bedroom on an iPhone. Once real money came into the picture, the same creators who built the platform became brands who made a living off of their popularity. The camera-ready Smosh you see today, whose goofs blew up in the advent of curated social media presences on platforms like Instagram, is very different from the amateur duo who started the channel back in 2005, for example.

MrBeast embodies this ostentatious era of YouTube so fully that some, like Smigel, consider the platform’s current phase synonymous with Donaldson. You see his influence everywhere, in the types of boisterous content people make, the brisk editing styles populating all of YouTube’s trending content, and even in the way YouTubers style their video thumbnails. Up until recently, MrBeast had the biggest video on the platform. Rare is the video that doesn’t take cues from MrBeast’s signature and endlessly memeable reaction face. As far as detractors like McLoughlin are concerned, MrBeast copycats are a plague on YouTube. And even if they do wholly original content, by and large, the most visible creators on the platform produce videos that mimic the extremes of someone who is willing to spend millions on a shoot.

“With MrBeast, it feels like you are watching a millionaire live out his fantasies,” Smigel told Polygon.

Fueled by an obsession with the architecture of his own fame, Donaldson’s process now seems him engineer videos that, while potentially entertaining to humans, do not get uploaded unless they clear a bar set by the YouTube algorithm. In a different context, this calculated approach to videos might raise questions about the value and meaning of his art. Except MrBeast’s brand of hustle culture has become a de facto part of YouTube’s dominant aesthetic.

Despite taking offense to McLoughlin’s assessment, and saying he wouldn’t have “given up” 14 years of his life to something if he “wasn’t having fun,” Donaldson also acknowledges the hardship of the work. Specifically, he frames it as a form of self-improvement — which has allowed him to evade tough questions. In interviews, Donaldson candidly reveals the tough conditions that make his videos possible, like building a friend group that constantly criticizes his output and axing expensive, fully finished videos that he’s unsure about. But because he’s rich and famous, no matter how rocky it gets, his road is seen as aspirational.

Whenever Donaldson analyzes his own trajectory on YouTube, he self-mythologizes around his own expertise, and how it allows him to game the platform. He’s described spending countless hours obsessing over every detail, down to the optimal brightness of a YouTube thumbnail . He knows the first 10 seconds of a video are the most important for retention, which is why his videos start with a barrage of all the wild things that will unfold in its run time. And that signature MrBeast editing style that’s fast, frantic, and omnipresent on YouTube is a relentless gambit for your attention. “I can get 100 million views on a video for less than 10 grand if I wanted to,” Donaldson boasted on the Colin and Samir podcast .

When asked to describe his own channel, Donaldson says that he’s so laser-focused on achieving virality that he will not upload a video unless he thinks it’ll go big. Later on in the same podcast , he muses that if he fed all the information about his MrBeast videos to an AI and prompted it to tell him what to make next, the output would be what he’s already making.

The key is to always be improving. Donaldson has mused that his dominion over YouTube is the product of radical candor within a team of like-minded creators with similar perfectionist standards. To this day, Donaldson claims to get on daily calls with other creators in the hopes of learning something new that will help him stay at the top. He claims that if a creator’s circle of friends doesn’t spot room for improvement in the videos — even if they’re already viral — then the creator is doomed to stagnate on the platform. Critique can only improve your output, he suggested at the time. But clearly he didn’t feel the same about McLoughlin’s comments, even if his YouTuber contemporary was on to something.

In reviewing dozens of MrBeast videos from over the years, Donaldson has nearly erased himself as a person from his episodic output. If viewers don’t really see him having fun, that’s by design. Donaldson has outright said he sees “personality” as a limitation for growth , once noting in a podcast that hinging your content on who you are as a person means risking not being liked. And if someone doesn’t like a creator as a person, they may not give the videos a chance.

McLoughlin’s comments hit at another bleak possibility: Viewers may hardly see MrBeast having fun in his videos because he’s not actually having a good time. In podcasts, Donaldson tells hosts that he goes so hard, he won’t stop working until he burns out and isn’t able to do anything at all. With a laugh, he admits that he has a mental breakdown “ every other week .” If he ever stops for a breather, he says, he gets depressed. MrBeast is so laser-focused on generating content on YouTube that he describes his personality as “YouTube.” He acknowledges that this brutal approach to videos, which has cratered many creators over the years , is not healthy. “People shouldn’t be like me. I don’t have a life, I don’t have a personality,” he said in a podcast recorded in 2023 .

Where this gets even stickier is knowing what makes any of it possible. MrBeast’s videos are so expensive, with budgets in the millions, that he can barely afford them. The main channel often operates at a loss , which is part of why his business has expanded to include food items that can be bought multiple times — and therefore have a higher profit margin. But from the very start of his career as a YouTuber, MrBeast’s funds come from sponsorship brands who are happy to drop cash for a viral video that covertly acts as advertisement. Though he’s been under scrutiny for his part in the warping of YouTube as a content ecosystem, you will never see something outwardly controversial or offensive in a MrBeast video. For a long time, Donaldson admits in a number of podcast appearances, he was afraid of putting anything complex in his videos — what if a viewer didn’t get it and stopped watching? Donaldson might very well be an advertiser’s absolute dream, the logical endpoint of an internet that’s been flattened into a samey, straightforward sludge of optimized content.

So far, much of what’s been heralded in YouTube’s era of MrBeast sounds bleak, but the next era might already be upon us. If the old YouTube was Instagram, the new YouTube will be more like TikTok. That manifests in literal ways, with the company putting much of its energy into “shorts,” but also figuratively, beyond structural elements. TikTok’s strength lies in its ability to surface videos from everyday users to an enormous audience, and it’s so good at doing this that people talk about its algorithm in mystical terms. Meanwhile, trust in media establishments continues to decline, while more and more Americans are turning to TikTok for their news .

The internet, in other words, is hungry for authenticity — or at least a person they can detect as human to deliver their content. It’s the very thing YouTube once did best, once the internet moved past the supremacy of blogs. “We are seeing many creators blow up right now because they’re creating good content while maintaining their relatability,” Smigel says. Spending a million dollars on a hotel room, as MrBeast did in a recent video, during a period where some can’t afford basic necessities and numerous industries fight for better working conditions, isn’t exactly relatable. Ostentatious influencers like the Kardashians are already experiencing the consequences of this shift within the public eye, but the changing attitudes of the broader viewership will likely hit YouTube’s elite.

It’s unlikely we’ll see MrBeast dethroned anytime soon, and even less likely that the incoming class of creators will reach his same viewership. Monoculture of that sort is a vanishing rarity, nor a marker of quality. MrBeast isn’t the best YouTube has to offer; he’s just made that rhetoric his brand. Other self-interested creators have a stake in perpetuating the narrative that a bigger number is inherently better. The better the numbers, the better the revenue — and numbers are easier to figure out than trying to assess or assign a value to art. But the most influential YouTubers of the next era already don’t resemble the prototypical MrBeast video. Look at Sam Sulek, Dodford, or the rise of “ Corecore .”

On some level, Donaldson must feel the ground shifting underneath his feet. On X (formerly Twitter), MrBeast’s updates say that he’s been trying new things with his videos — things that, a year ago, might’ve sounded sacrilegious in a MrBeast video. He’s screaming less, and messing around with his friends way more. The videos are slower, and by extension, feature a longer run time than his older videos. He’s including sillier material, even if it doesn’t seem pertinent to the video. To Donaldson, these changes are all a part of his newfound focus on producing material with better stories. His theory, which he’s been talking about for over a year now on podcasts, is that good storytelling will take his videos to the next level. But good stories are about people, not brands — that’s advertising.

If Donaldson is right, then McLoughlin is also right. The question is whether or not audiences and their evolving tastes can ever fully see a MrBeast video as something earnest, which by their very nature might be impossible. Real people aren’t hiring hitmen to track them down, or blowing millions on making a bank explode. But the next era of YouTube seems to be bending a superstar toward its ideal mode rather than the reverse.

“The return to an authentic era on YouTube comes down to a growing fatigue with sensationalism. […] I think we are witnessing a cultural shift,” Smigel says. “Millions of people, myself included, grew up on the internet, and for years we’ve been bombarded with sensationalism. It’s exhausting. Personally, I crave human connection.”

In early 2023, watching a MrBeast video was the psychological equivalent of getting on a roller coaster ride that pulls you into a drop moments after stepping inside. A year later, Donaldson still bombards viewers with a screaming MrBeast within the first 30 seconds of run time. His anxiety to keep people watching remains palpable: In a recent video about subjecting someone to his worst fears , MrBeast sets off a fake explosion during a simple explanation of the parameters. But unlike in the past, it’s easy to keep track of the jump cuts, excessive as they might be. Rather than squeezing in a quick preview of the most sensational moments of his video at the start, as he usually does, Donaldson lingers on his subject a smidge more. An evolution, even if it’s all in the details, is underway.

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Delhi Capitals IPL 2024 Season Preview: All Eyes on Returning Rishabh Pant as DC Hope to End Title Drought

R ishabh Pant is the buzz word not just for Delhi Capitals, but for the whole of IPL 2024. Roughly 14 months since his horrific car accident the Delhi superstar is gearing up for a return to competitive cricket and it is a much-anticipated return in recent memory in cricket. How will he fare? Will he live up to the expectations? And it is in this question lies the answers to Delhi Capitals chances in IPL 2024.

Also Read: 10 Uncapped Players to Watch Out For During IPL 2024

After finishing 9th in IPL 2023, you would have thought DC would go for a rejig at the IPL 2024 Auction (for the nth time), but they did not, and retained the core even as they released 11 players and went in with a purse of Rs 28.95 Cr. Among the released players were the current Windies T20I skipper Rovman Powell, India’s latest Test player Sarfaraz Khan, T20 mercenaries Rilee Rossouw and Phil Salt. They brought players including Harry Brooks, Tristan Stubbs, Jhye Richardson, Kumar Kushagra and Shai Hope

But come the IPL 2024, Brook’s withdrawal has once again put a spanner in their works. Lungi Ngidi has been replaced by Australian opener Jake Fraser-McGurk. Overall, the DC unit looks a bit thin on the batting front. Shaw’s inconsistency could mean Fraser-McGurk slotting up the order alongside Warner with Mitchell Marsh and Pant to follow. That leaves them with Axar Patel, Yash Dhull, Lalit Yadav, Ricky Bhui and Kumar Kushagra to choose from for the middle and lower-middle order. As exciting a talent Stubbs is, DC cannot afford to make a returning Anrich Nortje sit out to fulfill the four overseas players quota. He may though be utilized as the Impact sub.

In the bowling front, DC only have an in-form Kuldeep and reliable Axar as sure shot performers. Nortje is returning from an injury layoff, so is Richardson – who is a fragile commodity – and then you have the unpredictable Khaleel Ahmed. Ishant Sharma proved to be a bargain pick for DC last year, but question marks will remain on the aging veteran’s fitness. Marsh may not push himself with the ball keeping in mind the impending T20 World Cup, for which he has been named the Aussie skipper. For DC, it may eventually come down to the form of Warner, and how best they use Axar.

How They Fared Last Year

From 2019 to 2022, DC had a strong run in the league making the playoffs on all three occasions under Shreyas Iyer first and, then Pant. With Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly at the helm, it looked it was only a matter of time before DC ended their IPL trophy drought. After all, they are one of three original eight franchises to have never won the title – the others being KXIP and RCB.

But in the 2023 edition, they were hit bad, really bad with Pant’s unavailability and Capitals crumbled, finishing 9th with only five wins to show. Warner was the lone DC player in the top 10 run-getter’s list last year – the next best was Axar at 34th. Their best bowler was 23rd in the Purple Cap list. They had to drop terribly out of form Shaw midway, Sarfaraz Khan had to don the gloves behind the stumps. Let alone finding a replacement for Pant, DC could not even find themselves last year.

Top Player (s) to Watch Out For

Rishabh Pant: Has to be the skipper. Last year, in Pant’s absence DC were looking to fill in three slots. Captain, Batter and a Keeper. And while Warner led admirably, DC just could not find the batter or keeper to even give 50 per cent of what Pant could have. Not to say a returning Pant will set the stage on fire with from the word go; his fitness will be a big question mark, but you would not want to bet against a player of Pant’s calibre, would you?

Axar Patel: In Pant’s absence Axar proved to be the talisman for DC both with the bat and the ball. But he probably was not utilised best as a batter last year. This year all eyes would be on how DC uses Axar the batter. Him going up to five will be the best-case scenario for DC. With the ball, he has proven to a tough costumer to handle in all kinds of pitches.

David Warner: A bona fide IPL legend, this could very well be ‘The Bull’s’ last season. He was the highest run-getter for DC last year and you can bet your money on another season where Warner will be eying the Orange Cap. And if he is able to replicate his past IPL forms, DC fans would know they will have a good season.

Strongest Playing XI for DC: Jake Fraser-McGurk, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Rishabh Pant (C & WK), Axar Patel, Ricky Bhui/Kumar Kushagra, Lalit Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Anrich Nortje, Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar

Impact Sub: Tristan Stubbs for Nortje

Rishabh Pant (C), Pravin Dubey, David Warner, Vicky Ostwal, Prithvi Shaw, Anrich Nortje, Abishek Porel, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Lalit Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, Mitchell Marsh, Ishant Sharma, Yash Dhull, Mukesh Kumar, Tristan Stubbs, Kumar Kushagra, Ricky Bhui, Rasikh Dar, Jhye Richardson, Sumit Kumar, Shai Hope, Swastik Chhikara

DC IPL 2024 Full Schedule

PBKS vs DC– Mullanpur, 23rd March

RR vs DC – Jaipur, 28th March

DC vs CSK – Visakhapatnam, 31st March

DC vs KKR – Visakhapatnam, 3rd April

MI vs DC – Wankhede, 7th April

Rishabh Pant will captain DC in IPL 2024. (Pic Credit: IG/delhicapitals)


Trump Says Some Migrants Are ‘Not People’ and Predicts a ‘Blood Bath’ if He Loses

In a caustic and discursive speech in Ohio, former President Donald J. Trump once again doubled down on a doomsday vision of the United States.

  • Share full article

Donald Trump, seen from behind and at a distance, speaks to a large crowd from behind a lectern.

By Anjali Huynh and Michael Gold

Anjali Huynh reported from Vandalia, Ohio, and Michael Gold from New York.

  • Published March 16, 2024 Updated March 18, 2024

Former President Donald J. Trump , at an event on Saturday ostensibly meant to boost his preferred candidate in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary race, gave a freewheeling speech in which he used dehumanizing language to describe immigrants, maintained a steady stream of insults and vulgarities and predicted that the United States would never have another election if he did not win in November.

With his general-election matchup against President Biden in clear view, Mr. Trump once more doubled down on the doomsday vision of the country that has animated his third presidential campaign and energized his base during the Republican primary.

The dark view resurfaced throughout his speech. While discussing the U.S. economy and its auto industry, Mr. Trump promised to place tariffs on cars manufactured abroad if he won in November. He added: “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a blood bath for the whole — that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a blood bath for the country.”

For nearly 90 minutes outside the Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio, Mr. Trump delivered a discursive speech, replete with attacks and caustic rhetoric. He noted several times that he was having difficulty reading the teleprompter.

The former president opened his speech by praising the people serving sentences in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. Mr. Trump, who faces criminal charges tied to his efforts to overturn his election loss, called them “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots,” commended their spirit and vowed to help them if elected in November. He also repeated his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, which have been discredited by a mountain of evidence .

If he did not win this year’s presidential election, Mr. Trump said, “I don’t think you’re going to have another election, or certainly not an election that’s meaningful.”

Mr. Trump also stoked fears about the influx of migrants coming into the United States at the southern border. As he did during his successful campaign in 2016, Mr. Trump used incendiary and dehumanizing language to cast many migrants as threats to American citizens.

He asserted, without evidence, that other countries were emptying their prisons of “young people” and sending them across the border. “I don’t know if you call them ‘people,’ in some cases,” he said. “They’re not people, in my opinion.” He later referred to them as “animals.”

Border officials, including some who worked in the Trump administration, have said that most migrants who cross the border are members of vulnerable families fleeing violence and poverty, and available data does not support the idea that migrants are spurring increases in crime.

Mr. Trump mentioned Bernie Moreno, his preferred Senate candidate in Ohio and a former car dealer from Cleveland, only sparingly. Though he has Mr. Trump’s endorsement, Mr. Moreno, whose super PAC hosted Saturday’s event, has struggled to separate himself in a heated Republican primary contest to face Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, this fall. Mr. Trump was redirected from a planned trip to Arizona to appear with Mr. Moreno as a last-minute push.

Mr. Trump issued vulgar and derogatory remarks about a number of Democrats, including ones he often targets, like Mr. Biden and Fani Willis, the Atlanta prosecutor overseeing his criminal case in Georgia, as well as those widely viewed as prospective future presidential candidates, such as Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois.

Mr. Trump called Mr. Biden a “stupid president” several times and at one point referred to him as a “dumb son of a — ” before trailing off. He also compared Ms. Willis’s first name to a vulgarity, called Mr. Newsom “Gavin New-scum” and took jabs at Mr. Pritzker’s physical appearance.

The Biden campaign issued a statement after the event claiming that Mr. Trump’s comments doubled “down on threats of political violence.”

“He wants another January 6, but the American people are going to give him another electoral defeat this November because they continue to reject his extremism, his affection for violence, and his thirst for revenge,” said James Singer, a spokesman for the Biden campaign.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, clarified that Mr. Trump was talking about the auto industry and the economy, not political violence, and wrote in a statement that “Crooked Joe Biden and his campaign are engaging in deceptively, out-of-context editing.”

Mr. Trump’s sharp words were not reserved for national politicians: He briefly took aim at one of Mr. Moreno’s primary opponents, Matt Dolan, a wealthy Ohio state senator who has been surging in recent polls. Returning to his prepared remarks, Mr. Trump said he did not know Mr. Dolan but depicted him as “trying to become the next Mitt Romney.”

“My attitude is anybody who changes the name from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians should not be a senator,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the professional baseball team that Mr. Dolan’s family holds a majority stake in.

When Mr. Moreno was briefly called back onstage toward the end of Mr. Trump’s remarks, he praised the former president as a “good man.” But Mr. Moreno did not explicitly remind the crowd to support him in his Senate bid on Tuesday. Mr. Trump, for his part, said Mr. Moreno was a “fantastic guy.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign speeches generally swing between scripted remarks and seemingly off-the-cuff digressions. On Saturday, he acknowledged struggling to read the teleprompter as he tried to quote statistics on inflation.

“Everything is up: Chicken’s up, bread is up and I can’t read this damn teleprompter,” Mr. Trump said. “This sucker is moving around. It’s like reading a moving flag in a 35-mile-an-hour wind.”

Then, Mr. Trump, who before his presidency was known in New York for refusing to pay his bills to a wide range of service providers, joked about not paying the teleprompter company.

“Then they say Trump’s a bad guy, because I’ll say this: Don’t pay the teleprompter company,” he said as the crowd laughed. “Don’t pay.”

Anjali Huynh , a member of the 2023-24 Times Fellowship class based in New York, covers national politics, the 2024 presidential campaign and other elections. More about Anjali Huynh

Michael Gold is a political correspondent for The Times covering the campaigns of Donald J. Trump and other candidates in the 2024 presidential elections. More about Michael Gold

Our Coverage of the 2024 Presidential Election

News and Analysis

President Biden is visiting Nevada and Arizona to champion his economic policies and attack Republicans on immigration and abortion as he seeks to shore up a crucial  but wavering Latino electorate.

The League of Conservation Voters, among the biggest spenders on progressive causes, said it would put $120 million behind Biden  and Democrats.

Former President Donald Trump accused Jews who vote for Democrats  of hating their religion and Israel, reviving and escalating a claim he made as president that Jewish Democrats were disloyal.

Trump has burned down and rebuilt the Republican National Committee, gutting the leadership and much of the staff. Here’s why  the former president is trying to reinvent such a crucial piece of campaign apparatus.

The War Over Disinformation: Claims by Trump and his allies that they are being censored online have successfully stymied the effort to filter election lies .

An Alternate Reality Pitch: The war in Ukraine. Hamas’s attack on Israel. Inflation. Trump has insisted that none would have occurred if he had remained in office after 2020. Here’s an assessment of his assertions .

Wooing Black Voters: Even as he repeatedly traffics in stereotypes about Black Americans, Trump is counting on them, and aggressively courting them , to help him win back the White House in November.

Economic Battle Lines: Biden’s $7.3 trillion budget for the next fiscal year  offered the nation a glimpse of the diverging directions  that retirement programs, taxes, trade and energy policy could take depending on the outcome of the election.

The Philippines economy in 2024: Stronger for longer?

The Philippines ended 2023 on a high note, being the fastest growing economy across Southeast Asia with a growth rate of 5.6 percent—just shy of the government's target of 6.0 to 7.0 percent. 1 “National accounts,” Philippine Statistics Authority, January 31, 2024; "Philippine economic updates,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, November 16, 2023. Should projections hold, the Philippines is expected to, once again, show significant growth in 2024, demonstrating its resilience despite various global economic pressures (Exhibit 1). 2 “Economic forecast 2024,” International Monetary Fund, November 1, 2023; McKinsey analysis.

The growth in the Philippine economy in 2023 was driven by a resumption in commercial activities, public infrastructure spending, and growth in digital financial services. Most sectors grew, with transportation and storage (13 percent), construction (9 percent), and financial services (9 percent), performing the best (Exhibit 2). 3 “National accounts,” Philippine Statistics Authority, January 31, 2024. While the country's trade deficit narrowed in 2023, it remains elevated at $52 billion due to slowing global demand and geopolitical uncertainties. 4 “Highlights of the Philippine export and import statistics,” Philippine Statistics Authority, January 28, 2024. Looking ahead to 2024, the current economic forecast for the Philippines projects a GDP growth of between 5 and 6 percent.

Inflation rates are expected to temper between 3.2 and 3.6 percent in 2024 after ending 2023 at 6.0 percent, above the 2.0 to 4.0 percent target range set by the government. 5 “Nomura downgrades Philippine 2024 growth forecast,” Nomura, September 11, 2023; “IMF raises Philippine growth rate forecast,” International Monetary Fund, July 16, 2023.

For the purposes of this article, most of the statistics used for our analysis have come from a common thread of sources. These include the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas); the Department of Energy Philippines; the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP); and the Philippines Statistics Authority.

The state of the Philippine economy across seven major sectors and themes

In the article, we explore the 2024 outlook for seven key sectors and themes, what may affect each of them in the coming year, and what could potentially unlock continued growth.

Financial services

The recovery of the financial services sector appears on track as year-on-year growth rates stabilize. 6 Philippines Statistics Authority, November 2023; McKinsey in partnership with Oxford Economics, November 2023. In 2024, this sector will likely continue to grow, though at a slower pace of about 5 percent.

Financial inclusion and digitalization are contributing to growth in this sector in 2024, even if new challenges emerge. Various factors are expected to impact this sector:

  • Inclusive finance: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas continues to invest in financial inclusion initiatives. For example, basic deposit accounts (BDAs) reached $22 million in 2023 and banking penetration improved, with the proportion of adults with formal bank accounts increasing from 29 percent in 2019 to 56 percent in 2021. 7 “Financial inclusion dashboard: First quarter 2023,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, February 6, 2024.
  • Digital adoption: Digital channels are expected to continue to grow, with data showing that 60 percent of adults who have a mobile phone and internet access have done a digital financial transaction. 8 “Financial inclusion dashboard: First quarter 2023,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, February 6, 2024. Businesses in this sector, however, will need to remain vigilant in navigating cybersecurity and fraud risks.
  • Unsecured lending growth: Growth in unsecured lending is expected to continue, but at a slower pace than the past two to three years. For example, unsecured retail lending for the banking system alone grew by 27 percent annually from 2020 to 2022. 9 “Loan accounts: As of first quarter 2023,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, February 6, 2024; "Global banking pools,” McKinsey, November 2023. Businesses in this field are, however, expected to recalibrate their risk profiling models as segments with high nonperforming loans emerge.
  • High interest rates: Key interest rates are expected to decline in the second half of 2024, creating more accommodating borrowing conditions that could boost wholesale and corporate loans.

Supportive frameworks have a pivotal role to play in unlocking growth in this sector to meet the ever-increasing demand from the financially underserved. For example, financial literacy programs and easier-to-access accounts—such as BDAs—are some measures that can help widen market access to financial services. Continued efforts are being made to build an open finance framework that could serve the needs of the unbanked population, as well as a unified credit scoring mechanism to increase the ability of historically under-financed segments, such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to access formal credit. 10 “BSP launches credit scoring model,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, April 26, 2023.

Energy and Power

The outlook for the energy sector seems positive, with the potential to grow by 7 percent in 2024 as the country focuses on renewable energy generation. 11 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts. Currently, stakeholders are focused on increasing energy security, particularly on importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet power plants’ requirements as production in one of the country’s main sources of natural gas, the Malampaya gas field, declines. 12 Myrna M. Velasco, “Malampaya gas field prod’n declines steeply in 2021,” Manila Bulletin , July 9, 2022. High global inflation and the fact that the Philippines is a net fuel importer are impacting electricity prices and the build-out of planned renewable energy projects. Recent regulatory moves to remove foreign ownership limits on exploration, development, and utilization of renewable energy resources could possibly accelerate growth in the country’s energy and power sector. 13 “RA 11659,” Department of Energy Philippines, June 8, 2023.

Gas, renewables, and transmission are potential growth drivers for the sector. Upgrading power grids so that they become more flexible and better able to cope with the intermittent electricity supply that comes with renewables will be critical as the sector pivots toward renewable energy. A recent coal moratorium may position natural gas as a transition fuel—this could stimulate exploration and production investments for new, indigenous natural gas fields, gas pipeline infrastructure, and LNG import terminal projects. 14 Philippine energy plan 2020–2040, Department of Energy Philippines, June 10, 2022; Power development plan 2020–2040 , Department of Energy Philippines, 2021. The increasing momentum of green energy auctions could facilitate the development of renewables at scale, as the country targets 35 percent share of renewables by 2030. 15 Power development plan 2020–2040 , 2022.

Growth in the healthcare industry may slow to 2.8 percent in 2024, while pharmaceuticals manufacturing is expected to rebound with 5.2 percent growth in 2024. 16 McKinsey analysis in partnership with Oxford Economics.

Healthcare demand could grow, although the quality of care may be strained as the health worker shortage is projected to increase over the next five years. 17 McKinsey analysis. The supply-and-demand gap in nursing alone is forecast to reach a shortage of approximately 90,000 nurses by 2028. 18 McKinsey analysis. Another compounding factor straining healthcare is the higher than anticipated benefit utilization and rising healthcare costs, which, while helping to meet people's healthcare budgets, may continue to drive down profitability for health insurers.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are feeling varying effects of people becoming increasingly health conscious. Consumers are using more over the counter (OTC) medication and placing more beneficial value on organic health products, such as vitamins and supplements made from natural ingredients, which could impact demand for prescription drugs. 19 “Consumer health in the Philippines 2023,” Euromonitor, October 2023.

Businesses operating in this field may end up benefiting from universal healthcare policies. If initiatives are implemented that integrate healthcare systems, rationalize copayments, attract and retain talent, and incentivize investments, they could potentially help to strengthen healthcare provision and quality.

Businesses may also need to navigate an increasingly complex landscape of diverse health needs, digitization, and price controls. Digital and data transformations are being seen to facilitate improvements in healthcare delivery and access, with leading digital health apps getting more than one million downloads. 20 Google Play Store, September 27, 2023. Digitization may create an opportunity to develop healthcare ecosystems that unify touchpoints along the patient journey and provide offline-to-online care, as well as potentially realizing cost efficiencies.

Consumer and retail

Growth in the retail and wholesale trade and consumer goods sectors is projected to remain stable in 2024, at 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

Inflation, however, continues to put consumers under pressure. While inflation rates may fall—predicted to reach 4 percent in 2024—commodity prices may still remain elevated in the near term, a top concern for Filipinos. 21 “IMF raises Philippine growth forecast,” July 26, 2023; “Nomura downgrades Philippines 2024 growth forecast,” September 11, 2023. In response to challenging economic conditions, 92 percent of consumers have changed their shopping behaviors, and approximately 50 percent indicate that they are switching brands or retail providers in seek of promotions and better prices. 22 “Philippines consumer pulse survey, 2023,” McKinsey, November 2023.

Online shopping has become entrenched in Filipino consumers, as they find that they get access to a wider range of products, can compare prices more easily, and can shop with more convenience. For example, a McKinsey Philippines consumer sentiment survey in 2023 found that 80 percent of respondents, on average, use online and omnichannel to purchase footwear, toys, baby supplies, apparel, and accessories. To capture the opportunity that this shift in Filipino consumer preferences brings and to unlock growth in this sector, retail organizations could turn to omnichannel strategies to seamlessly integrate online and offline channels. Businesses may need to explore investments that increase resilience across the supply chain, alongside researching and developing new products that serve emerging consumer preferences, such as that for natural ingredients and sustainable sources.


Manufacturing is a key contributor to the Philippine economy, contributing approximately 19 percent of GDP in 2022, employing about 7 percent of the country’s labor force, and growing in line with GDP at approximately 6 percent between 2023 and 2024. 23 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts.

Some changes could be seen in 2024 that might affect the sector moving forward. The focus toward building resilient supply chains and increasing self-sufficiency is growing. The Philippines also is likely to benefit from increasing regional trade, as well as the emerging trend of nearshoring or onshoring as countries seek to make their supply chains more resilient. With semiconductors driving approximately 45 percent of Philippine exports, the transfer of knowledge and technology, as well as the development of STEM capabilities, could help attract investments into the sector and increase the relevance of the country as a manufacturing hub. 24 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts.

To secure growth, public and private sector support could bolster investments in R&D and upskill the labor force. In addition, strategies to attract investment may be integral to the further development of supply chain infrastructure and manufacturing bases. Government programs to enable digital transformation and R&D, along with a strategic approach to upskilling the labor force, could help boost industry innovation in line with Industry 4.0 demand. 25 Industry 4.0 is also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Priority products to which manufacturing industries could pivot include more complex, higher value chain electronic components in the semiconductor segment; generic OTC drugs and nature-based pharmaceuticals in the pharmaceutical sector; and, for green industries, products such as EVs, batteries, solar panels, and biomass production.

Information technology business process outsourcing

The information technology business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sector is on track to reach its long-term targets, with $38 billion in forecast revenues in 2024. 26 Khriscielle Yalao, “WHF flexibility key to achieving growth targets—IBPAP,” Manila Bulletin , January 23, 2024. Emerging innovations in service delivery and work models are being observed, which could drive further growth in the sector.

The industry continues to outperform headcount and revenue targets, shaping its position as a country leader for employment and services. 27 McKinsey analysis based in input from industry experts. Demand from global companies for offshoring is expected to increase, due to cost containment strategies and preference for Philippine IT-BPO providers. New work setups continue to emerge, ranging from remote-first to office-first, which could translate to potential net benefits. These include a 10 to 30 percent increase in employee retention; a three- to four-hour reduction in commute times; an increase in enabled talent of 350,000; and a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1.4 to 1.5 million tons of CO 2 per year. 28 McKinsey analysis based in input from industry experts. It is becoming increasingly more important that the IT-BPO sector adapts to new technologies as businesses begin to harness automation and generative AI (gen AI) to unlock productivity.

Talent and technology are clear areas where growth in this sector can be unlocked. The growing complexity of offshoring requirements necessitates building a proper talent hub to help bridge employee gaps and better match local talent to employers’ needs. Businesses in the industry could explore developing facilities and digital infrastructure to enable industry expansion outside the metros, especially in future “digital cities” nationwide. Introducing new service areas could capture latent demand from existing clients with evolving needs as well as unserved clients. BPO centers could explore the potential of offering higher-value services by cultivating technology-focused capabilities, such as using gen AI to unlock revenue, deliver sales excellence, and reduce general administrative costs.


The Philippines is considered to be the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change in the world as, due to its geographic location, the country has a higher risk of exposure to natural disasters, such as rising sea levels. 29 “The Philippines has been ranked the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change,” Global Climate Risk Index, January 2021. Approximately $3.2 billion, on average, in economic loss could occur annually because of natural disasters over the next five decades, translating to up to 7 to 8 percent of the country’s nominal GDP. 30 “The Philippines has been ranked the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change,” Global Climate Risk Index, January 2021.

The Philippines could capitalize on five green growth opportunities to operate in global value chains and catalyze growth for the nation:

  • Renewable energy: The country could aim to generate 50 percent of its energy from renewables by 2040, building on its high renewable energy potential and the declining cost of producing renewable energy.
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing: More than a twofold increase in annual output from 2023 to 2030 could be achieved, enabled by lower production costs.
  • Battery production: The Philippines could aim for a $1.5 billion domestic market by 2030, capitalizing on its vast nickel reserves (the second largest globally). 31 “MineSpans,” McKinsey, November 2023.
  • Electric mobility: Electric vehicles could account for 15 percent of the country’s vehicle sales by 2030 (from less than 1 percent currently), driven by incentives, local distribution, and charging infrastructure. 32 McKinsey analysis based on input from industry experts.
  • Nature-based solutions: The country’s largely untapped total abatement potential could reach up to 200 to 300 metric tons of CO 2 , enabled by its biodiversity and strong demand.

The Philippine economy: Three scenarios for growth

Having grown faster than other economies in Southeast Asia in 2023 to end the year with 5.6 percent growth, the Philippines can expect a similarly healthy growth outlook for 2024. Based on our analysis, there are three potential scenarios for the country’s growth. 33 McKinsey analysis in partnership with Oxford Economics.

Slower growth: The first scenario projects GDP growth of 4.8 percent if there are challenging conditions—such as declining trade and accelerated inflation—which could keep key policy rates high at about 6.5 percent and dampen private consumption, leading to slower long-term growth.

Soft landing: The second scenario projects GDP growth of 5.2 percent if inflation moderates and global conditions turn out to be largely favorable due to a stable investment environment and regional trade demand.

Accelerated growth: In the third scenario, GDP growth is projected to reach 6.1 percent if inflation slows and public policies accommodate aspects such as loosening key policy rates and offering incentive programs to boost productivity.

Focusing on factors that could unlock growth in its seven critical sectors and themes, while adapting to the macro-economic scenario that plays out, would allow the Philippines to materialize its growth potential in 2024 and take steps towards achieving longer-term, sustainable economic growth.

Jon Canto is a partner in McKinsey’s Manila office, where Frauke Renz is an associate partner, and Vicah Villanueva is a consultant.

The authors wish to thank Charlene Chua, Charlie del Rosario, Ryan delos Reyes, Debadrita Dhara, Evelyn C. Fong, Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, Frances Lee, Aaron Ong, and Liane Tan for their contributions to this article.

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  26. Trump warns of 'bloodbath' for auto industry and country if he loses

    Former President Donald Trump warned Saturday that if he were to lose the 2024 election, it would be a "bloodbath" for the US auto industry and the country. The remark came as Trump promised a ...

  27. Delhi Capitals IPL 2024 Season Preview: All Eyes on Returning ...

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  28. The 'Colorblindness' Trap: How a Civil Rights Ideal Got Hijacked

    Taylor added the word to the order, but it would be the other Texan — a man with a fondness for using the N-word in private — who would most forcefully describe the moral rationale, the ...

  29. Trump Says Some Migrants Are 'Not People' and Predicts a 'Blood Bath

    When Mr. Moreno was briefly called back onstage toward the end of Mr. Trump's remarks, he praised the former president as a "good man." But Mr. Moreno did not explicitly remind the crowd to ...

  30. The Philippines economy in 2024

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