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A Case for American Optimism,
This review is from: The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 (Hardcover)
Joel Kotkin estimates that by 2050 the United States will be home to 400 million people, about 100 million more than today. Looking at demographic trends, fertility rates, and immigration patterns, he predicts that the US will have the greatest population growth of all the advanced industrial nations. It has already been well-documented that Japan and European countries, with low fertility rates and restrictive immigration policies, will decline in population in the coming years. As an example, the Russian population will decline by 30 percent by 2050, not only because of low fertility rates and little immigration, but also because of high mortality rates.
The author argues that China, with its one-child policy, will find itself by 2050 with about 30 percent of the population over age 60. This policy will also hamper it from overtaking the US in terms of GDP anytime soon. This prediction illustrates one of the pitfalls of futurology: I have read elsewhere that China has abandoned its one-child policy due to "shortages" of factory workers. Take away the one-child policy and again China is an economic dynamo.
As in his previous book, The City: A Global History (Modern Library Chronicles), Kotkin is a champion of suburbia and the exurbs. This distinguishes him from Richard Florida who champions the creative class of the metropolitan areas. Kotkin believes future growth, both demographic and economic, will be in the lesser known heartland suburbias, where the standard of living is lower and regulations are fewer. Growth will not be as robust in "luxury cities" such as San Francisco and New York which are more attractive for young and single adults as well as childless couples. These bohemian types, according to the author, focus more on art and lifestyle, rather than creating jobs and families.
It is obvious from the trends that Kotkin outlines in his current book that most of the population growth and economic expansion will come from immigrant communities, most notably Asian and Hispanic. He points out that between 1990 and 2005 one in four venture-backed public companies was started by either Chinese or Indian diaspora.
Kotkin paints a rosy picture of the future: America will still be a preeminent superpower, sharing that position, however, with China and India. It is good to keep in mind that predicting the future is a shaky business. Projecting a few of the current trends far into the future can be an empty exercise when certain facts on the ground change or when others are overlooked.
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Initial post: Dec 10, 2010 2:02:59 PM PST
China hasn't abandoned the one-child policy. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party recently announced that it would continue it for at least another decade.
Posted on Feb 3, 2011 9:12:03 PM PST
E. Suslow says:
Even if China abandoned the one child policy tomorrow, which they haven't, and people responded by having a lot more children (which may or may not happen) that wouldn't solve their current demographic issues. Any children born after the law change would take at least 18 years to join the workforce. Longer if those children go to college. A worker shortage will hit well before those new workers would have had a chance to grow up.
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