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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 36 reviews
on May 11, 2016
A very useful thought process; the author is really asking the question - Where will the Next Hundred Million Americans go?
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on February 2, 2016
I found this book very interesting as I'm interested in the future of our country. It gave me some great insight for what we may expect the U.S. to look like in the next few decades and it was a very quick read with some great research and current trends discussed.
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on September 9, 2015
My only qualm was that I was hoping for a bit more specificity from Mr.Kotkin's predictions for the country 50 years from now. Otherwise, this was an enjoyable book and a quick read.
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on September 2, 2013
If you are tired of the same ol' new urbanism or bust reading then check this out. Im in my mid 30's and find this book refreshing. A future for all and not just the cram us in a small box crowd, even though theres plenty o room for them also.
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on July 14, 2015
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on June 27, 2011
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.

Kotkin indicates that the US attracts and retains a rising percentage of skilled immigrants. Immigrants are a source of economic energy as between 1990 and 2005, they started one quarter of all US venture-backed public companies. Work ethic also favors the US. Americans currently work 300 hours more per year than Europeans. And, they appear much more content than their European counterparts. The fruits of their labor give Americans a greater sense of control over their lives and hope in a better tomorrow. By 2050, non-Hispanic whites will be in a minority within both the general population and the workforce.

Kotkin conveys that the competitiveness of China and India appears exaggerated. Both countries are not expected to generate GDPs per capita anywhere near the U.S. for decades if not over a century. Both countries have a large percentage of their populations whose lifestyle is barely above survival. And, many of their brightest come to the U.S. to succeed. Silicon Valley is crowded with both Chinese and Indian immigrants who have started successful hi-tech businesses, or are part of senior management, or are key computer programmers. Thus, any brain-drain between the three powers still strongly favors the U.S.

While Richard Florida as he expressed in Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life thinks that the driving economic unit is no more nations but instead super cities, Kotkin feels nations do matter a lot. They are in a competition of culture and for the reasons mentioned above Kotkin states the U.S. is winning that race. Richard Florida has written an entire book on the creative class preferring the European capitalist model vs the U.S. Kotkin indicates that it is another case of selling the U.S. short while the facts (international immigration patterns) contradict the theory as far more Europeans members of the creative class have moved to the U.S. than the reverse. This makes sense. If you have an idea, it is easier to get it funded and start a business in the U.S. vs Europe.

When Kotkin turns to where the 100 million will locate in the U.S. he offers a vision that sharply contrasts with Richard Florida. While Richard Florida envisions a rise of a creative class clustering in super cities (London, Paris, NY, SF, etc...) Kotkin anticipates the growth and economic vibrancy will concentrate in the "cities of aspirations" modeled after Los Angeles such as Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Denver, and Atlanta. Immigrants will cluster in the suburbs of such sprawling cities and others. Since 1950 the suburban share of the nation's population has doubled to its current 50%. Suburbs will be increasingly diversified. Over 27% of suburbanites are minorities. This percent could rise to 50% by 2050.

Kotkin advances that the suburb and urban sprawl offers an ideal lifestyle associated with affordable and expansive housing, low crime rate, and good public school systems. In the future, the health of cities will depend more on good schools and safe parks (Kotkin) than hip art galleries and music scene (R. Florida). Meanwhile, the dense constrained urban centers of Richard Florida super cities are challenged to compete on affordable lifestyle parameters. Kotkin refers to Richard Florida's super cities as "luxury cities." He acknowledges that for the time being they will maintain their position as managers of the world economy as they house the most powerful residents.

Kotkin calls the emerging, networked suburbs and sprawl "smart sprawl." He envisions that telecommuters, the Internet, home-based businesses, and satellite office centers will turn the suburbs into self-sufficient job centers that will rely less on traditional downtown job centers. He refers to demographer Wendell Cox when stating that by 2015 more people will work electronically at home than will take public transportation. In San Francisco and Los Angeles nearly 10% of workers are part-time telecommuters. He calls this process "de-clustering" [away from the super cities job centers]. Again this is the opposite of Richard Florida's vision of increasing clustering of his creative class around those super cities. According to Kotkin, this de-clustering will cause smart sprawl to become an economic and cultural force. At the essence, it is again "voting with one's feet" as people will move where they want to and can afford to; And, this means moving to lower-density neighborhoods.

Per Kotkin, the heartland will benefit from this de-clustering. He indicates that many small rural cities are benefiting from a "hidden tech" trend whereby software companies are getting established far away from the super cities in areas associated with great outdoors, low housing costs, and have little trouble attracting the creative class. Kotkin mentions Fargo, Boise, Sioux Falls as such places. Since 2000, hi-tech employment has risen faster in those small cities than in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston.

Kotkin refers to Boise as a new model for Silicon Valley. The area benefits from a great quality of life, low cost, and plenty of talent. As a result, Boise and other similar cities are benefiting from an "onshoring' trend whereby hi-tech companies are moving operations to those lower cost domestic areas instead of off shoring them to India.

Kotkin anticipates a revival of U.S. manufacturing. This also contrasts with Richard Florida's vision of a creative service economy (see The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life. On this one count it is challenging to side against Florida.

Ultimately, the future will likely capture nuances of both Kotkin and R. Florida's visions. R. Florida actually documents his theory far more thoroughly than Kotkin as he relies on his firsthand research building multivariate regressions and fascinating scatter plots demonstrating the relationships supporting his theories. Thus, as Florida says the future is likely to get increasingly spikier as the concentration of talent working within the super cities will continue to rise. But, this talent may very well live in the suburbs especially when starting a family as Kotkin suggests. In summary, they will both likely be right as people will continue to gravitate where the action is (super cities) but live where they can afford the best lifestyle (suburbs).
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on January 12, 2011
Kotkin is a glass-half-full kind of guy, a Clinton-esque New Democrat who delights in tweeking the conventional wisdom of Progressives and my fellow Land Use Planners. At the same time Kotkin sings the praises of America's suburban growth machine he re-light's Lady Liberty's invitation to immigrants far and near in an unbridled celebration of Creative Destruction.

My only reservation is Joel's writing style--short and pithy is good for his regular columns in Forbes, but can be a bit disjointed to follow an argument. Even so, he's sure to infuriate doomsayers left and right.
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on July 6, 2010
I wanted to like this book. I really did. But between the author's arrogant dismissal of Jane Jacobs, and his holding up of Phoenix (yech!) as a great American city, I'm really disappointed. He completely fails to connect that the physicality of a city defies what that city becomes, and thinks that Las Vegas will be the new New York just because a bunch of people move there. He recognizes that there needs to be a new definition of suburbia, but fails to state how suburbia will become relevant beyond short-term strip malls. His view of urbania is slightly above contempt. Slightly. He ignores the political polarization now splitting America, or how it influences people's habitat choices, or how the automobile completely redefined how people live. In short, a simplistic, deeply lacking book.
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on March 7, 2010
Joel Kotkin's The Next Hundred Million is going to be a frequently referenced classic. It's a must read for anyone interested in livability planning in our metropolitan areas, and not withstanding our somewhat limited success at drawing a large percentage of our population to community outreach planning workshops - that actually includes most of us.

Kotkin has made connections in the data that has been sitting out there available to us that we hadn't made before. He found patterns that had previously not been discernable to us before. We missed them. The reader will experience that wonderful reaction that occurs when reading any classic major commentary - the light bulb will go off, and you will turn around, look back, and start to make the connections and see the patterns yourself.

He says that suburbia will be reinvented. Well yes. We hadn't really focused on this but actually we are starting to see what he projects right here in our older suburbs. Most older suburbs were originally small towns, with town centers and main streets, and they are indeed being revitalized. We can project that they will begin to develop once again into cohesive communities, within connections to the larger metro area. We can see the beginnings of a trend towards good interactions between these suburbs and our urban downtown core. Our light rail is busy on weekends, well beyond initial projections, with people coming downtown to be entertained in one way or another. On weekdays we have a two way commute as employees go out to the land, available in the older suburbs, which now houses light manufacturing and tech businesses. We've got people out there walking and biking to nearby workplaces.

He says that immigrants will have a big hand in that revitalization. Well yes. I think we are beginning to see that as well - just hadn't really noticed it. There is a reason that even in this very foodie community, arguably the best Indian restaurant in the area, and perhaps even the best Vietnamese restaurant as well are out in the old suburbs. Those are the communities that are attracting immigrants. The prices are lower, the houses, while substantially smaller than the new McMansions in the single developer communities in the newer suburbs, are nonetheless larger than apartments downtown.

Throughout the history of this country the waves of immigrants have always generated small entrepreneurial ventures - they don't have the money, or the language skills to do anything other than bootstrap their way up - and they can hire their extended family to multiply the financial value of their ventures. There are parking lots out here that now house clusters of low cost start up ethnic food carts. The same as a mall's food court, only different. Much different.

Kotkin says that we will be doing more of our work from home now, because we have the technological capabilities. And not just start-ups. I visited a friend in an old suburb. His home is the northwest office of a substantial, albeit narrowly focused, European company. He spends 50% of his time working from his home office, 40% out on the road visiting clients, and 10% back in Europe at company headquarters. Next to him he pointed out, is a couple - both of whom work for IBM -that spend maybe 20% of their time in a company office, 40% out of home, and 40% on the road. Next to them, a similar home-road-office split for a Sony employee. Two more houses down - a former cook who now runs her own food cart a couple of blocks away. Across the street is a woman who was laid off from a state job in the previous financial crisis who is now a consultant, earning more than she ever made before, working out of her office at home. Isn't this going to grow as the technology gets better? Isn't that why more than 200 communities are now hustling with Facebook pages for Google's new hi speed connection project?

The book is impressively well researched and the analysis and arguments he provides for his very supportable conclusions are on solid foundations. There is no doubt that he knows the thinking in the field to date. There are no less than 46 pages of small print references and citations of everyone from Lewis Mumford and Daniel Yergin to Pat Riley! How can you not be impressed with this kind of effort? It's substantiated and rigorous scholarship. This book will be a well thumbed classic for those open minded enough to use it. It will help move planning out of the box of its present orthodoxy.

My major problem with it is that it offers real potential for a positive picture of America in 2050. I surely hope that doesn't cramp my ability to bitch and moan about pretty much everything anyone else ever does. Because I've got my "we're not doing it right" argument down pat by now. It's comforting to me to feel superior. I like figuratively placing little yellow stickies on everything - telling them they need to improve (i.e. do it my way). And Kotkin's effort says if the trends he has identified continue it may not be so bad here after all in a few decades. OMG. Now what will I do for an ego soothing hobby?
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on March 6, 2011
The historical background behind it was some what interesting, however the prediction of the future seemed unlinked to the historical backing and often unrelated. I was bored all the way through and would not recommend this book to anyone.
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