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The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 4, 2010

3.2 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kotkin (The City) offers a well-researched—and very sunny—forecast for the American economy, arguing that despite its daunting current difficulties, the U.S. will emerge by midcentury as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history. Nourished by mass immigration and American society's proven adaptability, the country will reign supreme over an industrialized world beset by old age, bitter ethnic conflicts, and erratically functioning economic institutions. Although decreasing social mobility will present a challenge, demographic resources will give the U.S. an edge over its European rivals, which will be constrained by shrinking work forces and rapidly proliferating social welfare commitments. Largely concerned with migration patterns within the U.S., the book also offers a nonpartisan view of America's strengths, identifying both pro-immigration and strongly capitalist policies as sources of its continued prosperity. However, Kotkin tends to gloss over the looming and incontrovertible challenges facing the country and devotes limited space to the long-term consequences posed by the current recession, the rise of India and China, and the resulting competition over diminishing energy resources. Nevertheless, his confidence is well-supported and is a reassuring balm amid the political and economic turmoil of the moment. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Assuming that America will increase to 400 million people in the next 40 years, Kotkin divines demographic consequences in this catalog of predictions. Optimistic in contrast to elite opinions on the Left and the Right that see America in decline, Kotkin’s views are not certitudes: the author regularly cautions that if certain things are not done, such as ensuring an economic environment of upward mobility, his vision of the future may not come to pass. Caveats dealt with, Kotkin essentially asks where the extra 100 million will live. Because some of them are already here—those born or who have immigrated since the early 1980s—Kotkin tends to extrapolate present trends. After a career-starting stint in the big city, family-raising aspirations send people to the suburbs and, increasingly in the Internet-connected world, to small towns and rural areas. Describing specific locales, Kotkin anticipates a revitalization of older suburbs and even a repopulation of the Great Plains. As sociological futurists engage with Kotkin’s outlook, the opportunity for critics lies in the author’s lesser attention to the environmental and political effects of population growth. --Gilbert Taylor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (February 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202443
  • ASIN: B0040RMEHG
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,903,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Izaak VanGaalen on February 7, 2010
Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kotkin is upbeat about America's future supported by a robust demographic growth (+100 million by 2050). Since much of this growth is from immigration, it is akin to "voting with your feet." This "voting" is due to immigrants preferring the tolerant US culture vs the class conscious, xenophobic, and sexist cultures of Japan, China, India, Russia and Europe. None of those cultures integrate immigrants well. As a result, the US will not experience the challenges of an aging society to the same degree as its counterparts. By 2050, 31% of China's population will be over 65; 41% for Japan; in the high 30s for Europe, but less than 25% for the U.S. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to be four times Russia.

Kotkin indicates that today 30% of the US population is nonwhite. By, 2050 this figure will reach 50% due to both fertility and immigration patterns.

A difference in immigrant integration can be observed between Muslims in Europe vs the U.S. In Europe they are marginalized, discriminated and unemployed. In the U.S. Muslims have education and income levels above the national average and 80% are registered to vote. America's culture better transcends religion or race.

Kotkin believes demography is destiny, and the more vibrant U.S. demographics insures it will remain a dominant power culturally and economically. This contrasts with everyone who has sold the U.S. short for decades. But, Kotkin indicates the recent history has not collaborated with any of those dire predictions. This is even true after this worldwide Great Recession caused by Wall Street, US regulators, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, rating agencies, and US borrowers. Yet, the US is on the rebound while Europe is tangled in a sovereign debt crisis lead by its weakest link: Greece.
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Format: Hardcover
I have a category of books that I want my Dad to read. These books share the theme "the world is getting better, not worse - and the future is brighter than the past". My Dad begs to differ. He is wrong, but he is entitled to his misguided views. (The next book on this list will be The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley - other books include The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook and The Birth of Plenty : How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created by William J. Bernstein

Kotkin grounds his optimism in solid demographics (my Dad's profession - one reason why I'm so excited to hear from him where Kotkin gets it wrong). Kotkin's basic argument is that the United States will reap a demographic dividend of relatively high fertility and immigration rates, one that will result in growing demand for goods and services and an expanding pool of talent, energy and innovation. This growth will be centered in our increasingly vibrant and diverse suburbs, but even the old industrial cities will benefit as their low costs drive in-migration.

Kotkin takes the "anti-suburb and anti-growth" pundits head-on, noting (accurately) that people choose to move to suburbs for amenities such as good schools and good housing. Jobs and culture tend to follow the people, a cycle that increases both productivity and brings new opportunity. The description of Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco has "luxury cities" is priceless - with Kotkin arguing that the new cities (concentrated in the South West spread all over) may get less cultural attention but will be the places of opportunity for our children and their immigrant neighbors.

Grade: A-
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