Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster Hardcover – February 5, 2013
2016 Book Awards
Browse award-winning titles. See all 2016 winners
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
P.J. O’Rourke, Author of Holidays in Heck
This book explodes old ways of thinking. Not moralizing, not blaming, Jonathan Last peers methodically ahead at the cold consequences of plunging global birth rates: aging and ever smaller national populations, the fatal destruction of the financial premises of the welfare state, disappearing military strength. He describes the comfortable, happy childlessness chosen by more and more highly educated coupleslives of personal contentment, yes, but with unutterably sad national consequences. We are left to draw conclusions ourselves: The use of sex is not simply personal; the future of the whole human race hangs on it. Those who missed Ben Wattenberg’s The Birth Dearth (1987) have another chance to be shaken awake by the earthquake rumbling louder and faster beneath us.”
Michael Novak, recipient of the Templeton Prize (1994), and author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
"Jonathan Last provides us with a well-written, well-argued description of one of the most profound, yet poorly understood phenomena of the 21st century: the world worldwide fall in birthrates and attendant rapid aging of the human population. He masterfully describes the key facts and concepts any literate person should know about the sea change in global demography and speculates wisely and soberly about the implications for the future of humanity. Avoiding the alarmism, sexism, and racial chauvinism that mars so such other writing on this subject, Last is an insightful and trustworthy guide."
Phillip Longman, Senior Fellow of the New America Foundation and author of The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity And What To Do About It
"Jonathan Last's writing matches his reasoning: as clear as a shot of gin, and just as bracing. America is changing more quickly than ever before, and this book explains why. A terrific, important read."
Tucker Carlson, Editor of The Daily Caller
"Jonathan Last's pulled off an amazing feat. He's written a book that's at once lively and profound, that deals with weighty matters with a light touch, and that explains a complex subject clearly. It might make you laugh, it could make you cry--but above all it will make you think."
William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard
"Imagine a merger of Mark Steyn and David Brooks with a Supreme Court imposed page limit."
Hugh Hewitt, Host, The Hugh Hewitt Show
The Malthusian paranoia of a coming population boom has nothing on the reality of a coming population implosion. Frankly it kinda makes a girl want to procreate.”
Top Customer Reviews
Demographics can be a tricky subject to write about, and difficult to read about. But have no fear -- Mr. Last lays out the facts and data about our demographic & fertility dilemma clearly and thoroughly (and in under 200 pages sans footnotes!); he teases out the implications of these facts judiciously; and he does it all with enough dark humor and interesting vignettes to make the demographic medicine go down easy. (One fascinating example: He notes that last year in Japan -- a nation well-advanced in a demographic death spiral -- consumers bought more adult diapers than diapers for babies, for the first time ever. Let that nugget sink in for a minute.) Mr. Last is clear-eyed about the probable consequences of population decline, and he does a fine job showing its likely effects on everything from the unsustainability of our entitlement programs to foreign policy to American economic growth and innovation -- while always cautioning that Demography is not inevitably Destiny.
No doubt some will assume the author wants to pin blame on feminism, or on selfish women who sacrifice motherhood for careers. I would respectfully ask such persons to read the book with an open mind, because Mr. Last does no such thing.Read more ›
THINGS I LIKED
1. I found his observations on the effect that ideological sorting has on a region's politics to be very interesting, even though it was only tangentially related to fertility. In the 1976 presidential election, only 26.8% of counties went to either candidate by greater than a 20 point margin. In the 2004 presidential election, 45.3% of counties went to either candidate by greater than a 20 point margin. In both elections, the percentage of the popular vote was similar--it's not that American individuals became more Democratic/Republican, it's just that increasing mobility allowed like-minded people to collect together, polarizing election outcomes and leading to the election of more polarized Congressmen.
This plays out with families too. People who are married, religious, and want to have kids (these things are often found together) gradually group together, usually in suburbs/rural areas where things are cheaper and roomier. I found his discussion of Salt Lake City interesting: the actual city has recently started to go Democratic, but the surrounding suburbs have become even more Republican and Mormon. A small scale version of the Big Sort.
2. I liked his detailed examination of how various countries' efforts to boost fertility have failed. In short, the government is quite ineffective at convincing people to have children they don't want to have. In reading reactions to this book, I've noticed that liberal commentators usually use the opportunity to slam Last for not promoting policies like universal paid maternal leave, child subsidies, etc. What they seem to ignore is that Last does examine these policies, and find that they just don't work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sorry, the scare of overpopulation is a contrived hoax like global warming. They are lies to cause you to change your behavior. Read morePublished 5 days ago by RuggedShark
The whole premise of this book is flawed. It claims that because in some countries there are fewer young people than old people, overpopulation isn't a problem.Published 2 months ago by Paravail
This book was recommended by a friend, and I found it absolutely fascinating. If you are even remotely interested in demographics, I would pick this one up.Published 3 months ago by tgholcomb
A great read and very helpful demographics just becoming popular nowPublished 5 months ago by Roebear
Mr. Last writes engagingly and humorously, which makes the array of data he provides easier to swallow. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Really excellent analysis on the social and economic consequences of plunging birth rates -- not just in the US but in other countries as well. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bayard B.