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What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster Hardcover – February 5, 2013
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The UN projects that world population, currently around seven billion, will peak over the next eighty-five years between ten billion and twelve billion people before starting a long and inexorable decline. Which is, Last argues, precisely the real cataclysm humanity faces. An extremely sharp writer with a great eye for telling details and revealing anecdotes What To Expect When No One's Expecting is a rich and detailed read, well worth the price of admission just for Last's cogent summarizing of long-term demographic trends. —Nick Gillespie
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.”
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I've read all the negative reviews, and frankly, I think that the folks that wrote those reviews are putting their politics ahead of the quality of the book and its arguments. That is to say, they aren't willing to take a look at what is bound to happen if it doesn't jive with their political outlook.
The numbers are not controversial. They've been reported in the press for years--as soon as the baby boomers die off (in the US) and as soon as the generation born in the late 50's and early 60's in the third world die off, the population of the world will begin to decline. Don't believe this author if you don't like that he is a religious man, just look the numbers up on the internet (the UN has them) and you can see for yourself.
This book is written in a very conversational style that is very easy to grasp. His numbers are clear and all of them are cited. He gives a comprehensible prognosis and suggestions to avoid what the author deems will be a huge disaster. I never felt that the author was pushing his ideology on me, although he was clear as to what his values were. The author's values are not mine, but I am happy to listen to him and hear his very interesting argument.
I give this book 4 stars instead of 5 because, although he was clear, the author never made me feel that the population going down would be such a devastating thing. Social security will be destroyed, here and in all the developed world. China will have a huge mess trying to support its aging population. But, since this book is taking the long view (none of this mess is expected to take place for 50 years or so) I wasn't convinced that the long view for population decline (after the disruption caused by the initial shock) would be so bad.
Many of us alive today will see the strain put on society by fewer workers having to pay for more Social Security recipients (and other elders in the rest of the world) but none of us alive today, will live long enough to see the final outcome. I think there will be great disruption, but I think it may all turn out very happily with a smaller population.
So, although I don't agree with the author on all points, there is no controversy about his data. The population is going to go down. The question is what happens next. That is where I disagree with this author, but I certainly enjoyed my "discussion" with him as I read the book.