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Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future Paperback – August 4, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What starts off as a persuasive statistical analysis dwindles into demagoguery in Wattenberg’s latest demographic exploration. Wattenberg (The Real America; The Birth Dearth), expanding on previous work, offers a detailed breakdown of trends toward global depopulation. The previous population projections, he considers, grossly overestimated peak population numbers, and even current U.N. projections, he says, tend toward the high side. The discrepancies are due to dramatically decreasing fertility rates throughout the world, he argues, making population growth rate much slower than anticipated. He predicts that after peaking in the next decades, the rate will drop sharply. Wattenberg’s book examines these numbers, their causes and their ramifications. Keeping his statistics comprehensible to the demographic novice, he makes a strong case against environmentalist praise of depopulation and skillfully analyzes the economic and social situations that might occur if his predictions play out. However, as Wattenberg surveys the reasons behind declining fertility rates, his arguments take an assertive turn. Wattenberg bemoans abortion, women who put careers before children, homosexuality and co-habitation without marriage—all with little of the statistical analysis that bolsters his initial arguments. Wattenberg himself says, "straightforward demographic numbers can engender mighty arguments," but doesn’t let his own numbers speak for themselves.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

An engagingly argued look at what happens when we get what we wish for, and Wattenberg is the thinker to write it. (Detroit Free Press)

A remarkable book...in terms of its importance for our country and the world. (Newt Gingrich The Washington Times)

One of the more interesting books of 2004. (Thomas Bray Detroit News)

He has done his homework…in a breezy and provocative style while providing the data to support his concern. (Marshall Fishwick, author of Popular Culture: From Cavespace to Cyberspace The Roanoke Times)

Fewer is an extremely informative and provocative book. (Howard Upton Tulsa World)

This book is the foundation for long-term global econometric and political thinking. (First Principles U.S.)

Fewer provides valuable food for thought. (Tom Baker Daily Yomiuri)

Nimble narrative of demographic data. (Martha Farnsworth Riche World Watch)

Lucidly show[s] how the once-feared population explosion is giving way to a birth dearth. (Marvin Olasky, editor–in–chief, World News Group WORLD)

This thought-provoking book addresses an important issue and is presented in nontechnical language accessible to a wide spectrum of readers. Highly recommended. (W. C. Struning CHOICE)

It is important that good minds pay close attention to these changes. This book is a very helpful contribution to that effort. (Bill Muehlenberg News Weekly)

[He has] gathered the data and usefully corrected widespread and longstanding misrepresentations. (Eric Cohen, Ethics and Public Policy Center)

Keeping his statistics comprehensible to the demographic novice, he...skillfully analyzes the economic and social situations that might occur. (Publishers Weekly)

Ben Wattenberg has again brought a vital issue to the public policy debate. (Joseph Chamie, Director, Population Division, DESA, United Nations)

This fascinating book tells us more than anything yet about why we are Fewer.... I strongly recommend it. (Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and member of Reagan’s Cabinet)

There is no better analyst to guide us through the complex political, social, and economic implications of this development than Ben Wattenberg. (Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man)

Scholarly, readable and compelling. (Joseph Lieberman, Senator)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (August 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566636736
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566636735
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Muehlenberg VINE VOICE on February 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
World depopulation has become the most important, and alarming, new demographic trend to emerge in the past few decades. While the world has experienced low fertility rates before, they have been due to great social disruptions such as war, famine, depression or plague. But the rates always went up afterwards.

Things are different now. The global downward trend in fertility is both long-term and pronounced. The numbers are alarming. There are now 63 nations with below-replacement fertility. The replacement level is a Total Fertility Rate of 2.1 children per women. Yet everywhere TFRs are plummeting. Today all 44 modern nations, with the exception of Albania, are below the 2.1 replacement level. America is just on that level.

And consider this incredible statistic: European TFR has fallen for fifty consecutive years. Many European nations have a TFR of 1.2, such as Italy, Greece, and Austria. Spain's level is down to 1.1. The UN estimates that Europe's population of 728 million people today will shrink to 632 million within 50 years.

The trend in the developing world is even more staggering. In 35 years the TFR there has fallen from 6.01 to around 2.8, and it continues to spiral downwards. South Korea, for example, has a TFR of just over 1.1, while China's rate is 1.8. This is down from 6.06 for China in the late 60s.

Fertility rates are falling rapidly in Arab and Muslim nations as well. For example, forty years ago the TFR in North Africa was 7.1 children per woman. Today it is 3.2 and still falling.

Now Wattenberg has written on these issues before. In 1987 he wrote The Birth Dearth. So why another book?
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Format: Hardcover
Ben Wattenberg's "Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future" is a remarkable book and, in terms of its importance for our country and the world, it should attract a great deal more attention than most of the presidential campaign advertising.

Mr. Wattenberg reports conclusively that the world will have far fewer people than was expected even a decade ago, that in numbers and age and gender patterns this smaller population will be distributed in ways that will be significant, and that the implications for the environment, the economy and national security will be quite profound.

The biggest news is that in sheer numbers the human race is now likely to peak at 8.5 billion people instead of the United Nations projection of 11.5 billion. Even the U.N. demographers now agree that the population explosion will never reach the numbers they had once projected.

The biggest reason for this dramatic decline was captured in an earlier book by Mr. Wattenberg, "The Birth Dearth." Women are simply having fewer children and the result is that in some countries population is already starting to go down.

As Mr. Wattenberg notes, in order to sustain the current population, the average woman would have to have 2.33 children. Falling below that average will result in a population decline. Today some 40 countries are already below the replacement rate and Mr. Wattenberg expects virtually every country to be below the replacement rate by the end of our lifetime.

Fascinatingly, after all the focus on Chinese compulsory population control, it is not China that has had the most rapid change in birthrates among Asian countries. That honor goes to South Korea, where women now average only 1.17 children (even lower than Japan).
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Format: Paperback
The argument that the world is overpopulated is a common one now, especially with the increasing fears of global warming. Some have predicted that population growth would outstrip the food supply, causing famine. Authors such as Thomas Malthus in 1798 noted that the food supply grew arithmetically, while population grew geometrically, leading to devastation. The Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich in 1968 predicted that hundreds of millions would perish in the 1970's from famine. These disasters never occurred, and it seems now that quite the opposite might take place.

Ben Wattenberg sheds new light on the issue about how we will have to deal with fewer people, and declining populations in the future. Currently, all European nations have below replacement-level fertility, and even Middle Eastern and Asian countries. The Europeans, even with heavy immigration are still experiencing negative population growth. Russia for example, is losing circa 700,000 people per year due to mortality and emigration. Interesting issues are examined such as integration into Western societies, for example, and whether or not democratic countries can remain so with an influx of people who reject its ideals. And can Europe remain economically competitive with a shrinking workforce that has to support an increasing percentage of those on pension?

The author also discusses possible reasons why demographic decline in many countries is occurring, such as education levels, contraceptives, urbanization, and religious beliefs toward the issue, to name a few.

I found the book not excessively political so I think anyone would enjoy reading it. Well researched, well referenced and above all captivating, Fewer is a great book regarding demographic decline.
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