The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050

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Visionary social thinker Joel Kotkin looks ahead to America in 2050, revealing how the addition of one hundred million Americans by midcentury will transform how we all live, work, and prosper.

In stark contrast to the rest of the world's advanced nations, the United States is growing at a record rate and, according to census projections, will be home to four hundred million Americans by 2050. This projected rise in population is the strongest indicator of our long-term economic...

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The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050

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Overview

Visionary social thinker Joel Kotkin looks ahead to America in 2050, revealing how the addition of one hundred million Americans by midcentury will transform how we all live, work, and prosper.

In stark contrast to the rest of the world's advanced nations, the United States is growing at a record rate and, according to census projections, will be home to four hundred million Americans by 2050. This projected rise in population is the strongest indicator of our long-term economic strength, Joel Kotkin believes, and will make us more diverse and more competitive than any nation on earth.

Drawing on prodigious research, firsthand reportage, and historical analysis, The Next Hundred Million reveals how this unprecedented growth will take physical shape and change the face of America. The majority of the additional hundred million Americans will find their homes in suburbia, though the suburbs of tomorrow will not resemble the Levittowns of the 1950s or the sprawling exurbs of the late twentieth century. The suburbs of the twenty-first century will be less reliant on major cities for jobs and other amenities and, as a result, more energy efficient. Suburbs will also be the melting pots of the future as more and more immigrants opt for dispersed living over crowded inner cities and the majority in the United States becomes nonwhite by 2050.

In coming decades, urbanites will flock in far greater numbers to affordable, vast, and autoreliant metropolitan areas-such as Houston, Phoenix, and Las Vegas-than to glamorous but expensive industrial cities, such as New York and Chicago. Kotkin also foresees that the twenty-first century will be marked by a resurgence of the American heartland, far less isolated in the digital era and a crucial source of renewable fuels and real estate for a growing population. But in both big cities and small towns across the country, we will see what Kotkin calls "the new localism"-a greater emphasis on family ties and local community, enabled by online networks and the increasing numbers of Americans working from home.

The Next Hundred Million provides a vivid snapshot of America in 2050 by focusing not on power brokers, policy disputes, or abstract trends, but rather on the evolution of the more intimate units of American society-families, towns, neighborhoods, industries. It is upon the success or failure of these communities, Kotkin argues, that the American future rests.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kotkin (The City) offers a well-researched—and very sunny—forecast for the American economy, arguing that despite its daunting current difficulties, the U.S. will “emerge by midcentury as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history.” Nourished by mass immigration and American society’s “proven adaptability,” the country will reign supreme over an “industrialized world beset by old age, bitter ethnic conflicts, and erratically functioning economic institutions.” Although decreasing social mobility will present a challenge, demographic resources will give the U.S. an edge over its European rivals, which will be constrained by shrinking work forces and rapidly proliferating social welfare commitments. Largely concerned with migration patterns within the U.S., the book also offers a nonpartisan view of America’s strengths, identifying both pro-immigration and strongly capitalist policies as sources of its continued prosperity. However, Kotkin tends to gloss over the looming and incontrovertible challenges facing the country and devotes limited space to the long-term consequences posed by the current recession, the rise of India and China, and the resulting competition over diminishing energy resources. Nevertheless, his confidence is well-supported and is a reassuring balm amid the political and economic turmoil of the moment. (Feb.)
New York Times
Such antinatalist choices reflect a lack of understanding that depopulation and aging may be an even greater threat to the advanced countries," he writes.

One advantage to projecting what the world will be like so far ahead — when Emanuel Plata will be 44 years old and, perhaps, living in the suburbs of the Southwest with his family and working from home — is that many of the people who review Mr. Kotkin's book will be dead by then. But regardless of whether he turns out to be right, his predictions are mostly plausible and are certainly grist for serious public policy debate.

Sam Roberts
One advantage to projecting what the world will be like so far ahead…is that many of the people who review Mr. Kotkin's book will be dead by then. But regardless of whether he turns out to be right, his predictions are mostly plausible and are certainly grist for serious public policy debate.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
In the grip of recession, with the economic news ranging from bad to dire, Kotkin's (The City) prediction that the United States will "emerge by mid-century as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history" may come as a welcome surprise. Kotkin identifies two demographic trends—a growing birthrate and increased immigration—as engines that will drive this new prosperity. He anticipates that the "next hundred million" will live not in dense, "superstar" cities (e.g., New York, Chicago) but in suburbs and sprawling cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles, with urban planning taking a back seat to the force of the market, which will, in some unspecified way, be able to mitigate the effect on the environment of all those cars on the road. Kotkin's research is prodigious and at times quite convincing. But he deploys it so selectively, while failing to offer more substantive comment on some of the unquestionable challenges we'll face in the coming decades, that his relentlessly optimistic future vision becomes somewhat hard to swallow. VERDICT A refreshing change of pace, but the tone is so breathless and the future portrayed as so sweet that this book must be taken with a grain of salt. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.]—Rachel Bridgewater, Reed Coll. Lib., Portland, OR
Kirkus Reviews
Think you have trouble finding a parking space today? Wait until 2050, when the American population will have grown by another 100 million. According to Forbes columnist Kotkin (The City: A Global History, 2005, etc.), that's good news. Indeed, he writes, "because of America's unique demographic trajectory among advanced countries, it should emerge by midcentury as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history." There are several arguments and bits of data bundled in that opener. As the author notes, most of the world's leading nations, particularly in Europe, are rapidly losing population and with it the prospect of future power and wealth. Russia's population, for example, could be one-third the size of the United States by 2050, and 30 percent of China's population will be over the age of 60 by then. Meanwhile, our future cultural richness will come from the fact that the greatest growth will be among groups that are now ethnic minorities, especially Hispanics and Asians. "Demographically at least," writes Kotkin, "America may have more in common with Third World countries with the developed world." The cultural shifts are likely to be dislocating to some, though the relentlessly optimistic author believes that the future will see a mix of traditional values and new ones leading to greater social tolerance. Whereas other nations are likely to decline precipitously, he adds, America will truly be in a position of economic dominance-though, admittedly, output might be high because no one will be able to afford to retire, given current trends. Less rosy is Kotkin's picture of a future America in which the leading cultural centers are likely to be-andelsewhere, to look like-places such as Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Miami, "multipolar, auto-dependent, and geographically vast." So much for reversing climate change, even if the author does see the rise of "greenurbia" in years to come. A fascinating glimpse into a crystal ball, rich in implications that are alternately disturbing and exhilarating. Agent: Scott Moyers/The Wylie Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594202445
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/4/2010
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Kotkin is an internationally recognized authority on global economic, political, social, and technological trends. He is the author of six books, including The City: A Global History and The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution Is Reshaping the American Landscape. He writes a column for Forbes and Politico.com and contributes regularly to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Washington Post.
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Four Hundred Million Americans 1

Ch. 2 The Cities of Aspiration 31

Ch. 3 The Archipelago of Villages 69

Ch. 4 The Resurgent Heartland 105

Ch. 5 Post-Ethnic America 139

Ch. 6 The 21st-Century Community 171

Ch. 7 America in 2050 209

Acknowledgments 245

Notes 249

Index 297

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Detailed, functional, aware predictions for a 21st century America

    This is a refreshing book, even a reassuring one. Author Joel Kotkin describes a 2050 America deeply rooted in the present. Major societal changes will come about, and many are underway already, in signs as pervasive as telecommuting and as public as the face of President Barack Obama. Kotkin's future can seem a bit conservative, especially since he doesn't focus on radically negative futures (the impact of massive climate change, for instance) or technological change. His analysis remains grounded in observation, which renders his thoughts accessible and useful. getAbstract recommends his forecast to futurists, to business leaders who need to envision their future workforce and marketplace, and to those interested in American culture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    Rather far fetched.

    The bookstarted of interesting but toward the end the author went too abstract with his predictions. The tangents regarding the Eastern Bloc countires were a disapointing change of pace from the beguinning of the book. Later in the book, the WW3 scenario was entertaining but in a Star Wars/Science fiction way, not in a forseeable future way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted September 5, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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