We face a threat more grave and certain than those posed by chemical weapons, nuclear proliferation, or ethnic strife: the "age wave." As life expectancy grows and fertility rates decline, senior citizens will make up an ever-larger share of the total population. The effects of this demographic shift will be staggering. It will come with a whopping price tag, which will place a massive burden on an ever-smaller working-age population. Economic, social, and even military policy throughout the next century will have to respond to this unalterable trend. Unless the West recognizes the challenges to come and devises a strategy to meet them, the future will be gray and bleak.
John Kenneth Galbraith's dazzling career as an economist and public intellectual has left an oddly thin legacy. A new biography sets out to explain why -- tracing, in the process, the rise and fall of twentieth-century American liberalism.
A series of looming demographic trends will greatly affect international security in the twenty-first century. How policymakers adjust to these changes now will determine the course of global political and economic stability for years to come.