What to Expect When No One's Expecting

America's Coming Demographic Disaster

By Jonathan V. Last
(Encounter Books, Hardcover, 9781594036415, 200pp.)

Publication Date: January 2013

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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We’ve 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.”

It’s 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, it’s not because of wars, famines, or plagues. It’s 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. China’s 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 Iran’s 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 you’re under 40, fertility declines will dictate how you navigate old age. If you’re under 10, fertility declines will influence your entire adult life. If we don’t 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 it’s creating will look like, and what can be done to stop it.

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, the New York Post, the 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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