The Great Population Spike and after; Reflections on the 21st Century

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Midway through the eighteenth century, the rate of growth for the world's population was roughly at zero. Immediately after World War II, it was just above 2 percent. Ever since, it has fallen steadily. This new book, the latest offering from a distinguished expert on international economics, tells readers what this stagnation or fall in population will mean—economically, politically, and historically—for the nations of the world.

W. W. Rostow not only traces the whole global arc of this "great population spike"—he looks far beyond it. What he sees will interest anyone curious about what is in store for the world's financial and governmental systems. The Great Population Spike and After: Reflections on the 21st Century contends that, as the decline in population now occurring in the industrialized world spreads to all of the presently developing countries, the global rate of population will fall to the "zero" level circa 2100. (Indeed, with the exception of Africa south of the Sahara, it could reach "zero" long before then.) This being so, how will it be possible to maintain full employment and social services with a decelerating population? What will societies do when the proportion of the working force (as now defined) diminishes radically in relation to the population of poor or elderly dependents? How will the countries of the world confront subsequent decreases in population-related investment?

In answering these queries, this bold study asserts that the United States is not the "last remaining superpower" but the "critical margin" without whose support no constructive action on the world scene can succeed. Rostow takes the view that world peace will depend on our government's ability to assume responsibly this "critical margin" role. Further, he argues that, over a period of time, the execution of this strategy on the international scene will require a bipartisan, relentless effort to solve the combustible social problems that weaken not only our cities but our whole society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Walt Rostow is always brilliant in discerning the 'big picture.' The Great Population Spike and After is no exception, arguing that the social and economic tides unleashed by below-replacement fertility will force countries to confront the necessity of inventing forms of political economy never before devised. An impressive tour de force in the scope and reach of its policy-relevant analyses, this book makes it clear that the United States abandons a world leadership role at its own peril."—Frank D. Bean, University of Texas at Austin

"Let me just say a few words about W. W. Rostow and his place in American scholarship. He is a unique figure, not only for his contributions to knowledge and understanding, but for his practical experience in matters of policy and government. I know of no one else—in the social sciences, at least—who has managed to take years away from the university and return to serious research and writing. Not memoirs, but independent scholarship. This marriage shows in his power of analysis and imagination in this new book. His personal awareness and experience of the problems that have confronted us in the second half of the 20th century enrich and legitimate his vision of things to come. My only concern is that he is an indefatigable optimist, but since that is what it takes to face hard and difficult things, I can forgive his rosy hopes and confidence. All in all, we are richer for Walt Rostow's presence on the intellectual scene. What a warrior!"—David S. Landes, Harvard University (Emeritus)

Library Journal
Rostow emeritus, Univ. of Texas at Austin, former consultant to the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, discusses the stagnant world population growth since the end of World War II and the impact of this phenomenon on worldwide economics, politics, and international peace. As Rostow sees it, the decline in population growth in the industrialized world below "replacement levels" will fall to a zero level circa 2100, with the exception of southern Africa, and will have a major impact on employment, social services for a decelerating population, diminished work forces, and other population-related investments. His projections present significant challenges for developing countries, as well as those entering what he terms the fourth industrial age, and his argument that the United States should fulfill the role of "critical margin" to address these concerns will raise eyebrows among the powers inside the loop. This is a critical, thought-provoking work dealing with highly technical, macroanalysis of international demographics and economics and is recommended for major academic libraries supporting graduate curricula in these areas.Dale F. Farris, Groves, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195116915
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Lexile: 1390L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

W. W. Rostow is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at the University of Texas at Austin. The author of numerous books and articles on economic theory, history, and public policy, he has taught at Cambridge, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Oxford, and was a consultant to the Eisenhower Administration before serving in those of Kennedy and Johnson.

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Table of Contents

1. The Framework
2. Population and the Stages of Growth
3. Technology and Investment
4. Relative Prices
5. Cycles
6. Limits to Growth
7. The Role of the United States in the Post-Cold War World
8. The Critical Margin and America's Inner Cities
9. Conclusions

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