What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster

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What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster
By Jonathan V. Last
Encounter Books, 2013
240 pp. $23.99

Since the 1960s, foundations, governments, and international bodies have worried about a seemingly unstoppable “population bomb.” It turns out that they should have been worrying about a population bust -- a collapse in the rate at which women are having children, which started in the developed world but is quickly spreading to developing countries. This trend puts enormous fiscal pressure on China, Japan, the United States, and European countries, where pension and social welfare programs rely on a growing cohort of younger people to foot the bill. In Europe, the lack of native-born children has created the need for high levels of immigration, which has led to a range of serious social problems in many European countries. But even worse for such countries would be the labor shortages they might face if fertility continues to fall in developing countries. Last takes a vigorous look at the policy and political issues resulting from this still-underappreciated seismic shift in the human condition. Even those who do not share his basically conservative outlook on many fertility and family policy issues will find this a stimulating and enlightening read.

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