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What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disasterby Jonathan V. Last
Synopses & Reviews
"According to Weekly Standard senior writer Last, hoofbeats are nigh: his 'three horsemen' of the apocalypse — 'cohabitation, widespread contraceptive use, and liberal abortion policies' — are riding America's population into the ground. Last claims this is not the fault of women working outside the home or the increasing prevalence of higher education, though still largely attributes it to them. The road to population stability is fraught with disincentives to have children and, statistically, America's fertility rate is 'artificially' bolstered by non-white new immigrants and citizens; a borderline racist claim cited, confusingly, as part of the 'coming disaster.' The book is rife with garbled statistics, and Last blatantly muddles causation and correlation to drill his points home. He states that couples with children are less happy than their childless counterparts; yet, for him, the well-examined life requires sacrificing personal goals and shallow pleasure for procreation-as-self-actualization, period. Moreover, Genghis Khan is cited for his global influence through Y-chromosomal paternity. Quantity versus quality of parenting is not addressed, even though today's parents spend more total hours with their children. For Last, the eponymous biological clock has become a moral imperative, and, in his view, the areligious, 'shacked up,' blue-state Americans are failing. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Weve been told for decades that the world has too many people, that overpopulation is the great peril of our age. Thanks to people like Tom Friedman, we take it as an article of faith that the earth is hot, flat, and crowded—that we are on the verge of a population explosion.”
Its all nonsense. In fact, the reverse is true. We are on the brink of a demographic implosion. For the first time in centuries, the world faces population decline. And this time, its not because of wars, famines, or plagues. Its because people have simply stopped having babies.
In demographics, the replacement rate is the golden number: 2.1.When women average fewer than 2.1 children, Very Bad Things happen. And American women have not hit the replacement rate in two generations. Today, middle-class, college-educated women in America have about the same number of children as do Chinese women. Chinas government bullies, taxes, and punishes their people with a One-Child Policy.” In America, we do one-child by choice.
The fertility decline already shapes the way we live. From Social Security shortfalls to Irans attempts to build nuclear weapons, fertility is the key to understanding the world around us. Fertility undergirds our politics and our laws; our culture and our economy. If youre under 40, fertility declines will dictate how you navigate old age. If youre under 10, fertility declines will influence your entire adult life. If we dont reverse this trend, economic systems will suffer, international affairs will be reordered, and innovation will slow in every sector—except, of course, for healthcare.
What to Expect When No One's Expecting explores how our fertility collapse happened, what the world its creating will look like, and what can be done to stop it.
Look around you and think for a minute: Is America too crowded?
For years, we have been warned about the looming danger of overpopulation: people jostling for space on a planet thats busting at the seams and running out of oil and food and land and everything else.
Its all bunk. The population bomb” never exploded. Instead, statistics from around the world make clear that since the 1970s, weve been facing exactly the opposite problem: people are having too few babies. Population growth has been slowing for two generations. The worlds population will peak, and then begin shrinking, within the next fifty years. In some countries, its already started. Japan, for instance, will be half its current size by the end of the century. In Italy, there are already more deaths than births every year. Chinas One-Child Policy has left that country without enough women to marry its men, not enough young people to support the countrys elderly, and an impending population contraction that has the ruling class terrified.
And all of this is coming to America, too. In fact, its already here. Middle-class Americans have their own, informal one-child policy these days. And an alarming number of upscale professionals dont even go that far—they have dogs, not kids. In fact, if it werent for the wave of immigration we experienced over the last thirty years, the United States would be on the verge of shrinking, too.
What happened? Everything about modern life—from Bugaboo strollers to insane college tuition to government regulations—has pushed Americans in a single direction, making it harder to have children. And making the people who do still want to have children feel like second-class citizens.
What to Expect When No Ones Expecting explains why the population implosion happened and how it is remaking culture, the economy, and politics both at home and around the world.
Because if America wants to continue to lead the world, we need to have more babies.
About the Author
Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at the Weekly Standard. His writings have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Post, Claremont Review of Books, First Things, The Week, Salon, Slate, TV Guide, and elsewhere. He writes a weekly column on politics, "One Last Thing," for the iPad newspaper The Daily.
He is a regular commentator on both television and radio and has appeared on ABC, CNN, Fox News Channel, PBS, NPR, CNBC, Sky News, and the BBC.
He blogs at JonathanLast.com.
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