Look around you and think for a minute: Is America too crowded?
For years, we have been warned about the looming danger of overpopulation: people jostling for space on a planet that’s busting at the seams and running out of oil and food and land and everything else.
It’s all bunk. The “population bomb” never exploded. Instead, statistics from around the world make clear that since the 1970s, we’ve been facing exactly the opposite problem: people are having too few babies. Population growth has been slowing for two generations. The world’s population will peak, and then begin shrinking, within the next fifty years. In some countries, it’s already started. Japan, for instance, will be half its current size by the end of the century. In Italy, there are already more deaths than births every year. China’s One-Child Policy has left that country without enough women to marry its men, not enough young people to support the country’s elderly, and an impending population contraction that has the ruling class terrified.
And all of this is coming to America, too. In fact, it’s already here. Middle-class Americans have their own, informal one-child policy these days. And an alarming number of upscale professionals don’t even go that far—they have dogs, not kids. In fact, if it weren’t for the wave of immigration we experienced over the last thirty years, the United States would be on the verge of shrinking, too.
What happened? Everything about modern life—from Bugaboo strollers to insane college tuition to government regulations—has pushed Americans in a single direction, making it harder to have children. And making the people who do still want to have children feel like second-class citizens.
What to Expect When No One’s Expecting explains why the population implosion happened and how it is remaking culture, the economy, and politics both at home and around the world.
Because if America wants to continue to lead the world, we need to have more babies.
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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 , New York Post , 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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: One Child for All! 1
Chapter 1 America's Falling Fertility 12
Chapter 2 The Roots of One-Child 37
Chapter 3 SEX! (and maybe marriage) 52
Chapter 4 What You Can, and Cannot, Measure 70
Chapter 5 Very Bad Things 88
Chapter 6 The Bright Side 111
Chapter 7 Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy 125
Chapter 8 Losing Battles (What Not to Do) 139
Chapter 9 How to Make Babies 156
What People are Saying About This
"A powerful argument that the only thing worse than having children is not having them. I'm reading What To Expect When No One's Expecting aloud to the three little arguments for birth control at my house in hope they'll quit squabbling and making messes and start acting so cute that all my neighbors decide to conceive."
P.J. O’Rourke, Author of Holidays in Heck
“This book explodes old ways of thinking. Not moralizing, not blaming, Jonathan Last peers methodically ahead at the cold consequences of plunging global birth rates: aging and ever smaller national populations, the fatal destruction of the financial premises of the welfare state, disappearing military strength. He describes the comfortable, happy childlessness chosen by more and more highly educated coupleslives of personal contentment, yes, but with unutterably sad national consequences. We are left to draw conclusions ourselves: The use of sex is not simply personal; the future of the whole human race hangs on it. Those who missed Ben Wattenberg’s The Birth Dearth (1987) have another chance to be shaken awake by the earthquake rumbling louder and faster beneath us.”
Michael Novak, recipient of the Templeton Prize (1994), and author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
"Jonathan Last provides us with a well-written, well-argued description of one of the most profound, yet poorly understood phenomena of the 21st century: the world worldwide fall in birthrates and attendant rapid aging of the human population. He masterfully describes the key facts and concepts any literate person should know about the sea change in global demography and speculates wisely and soberly about the implications for the future of humanity. Avoiding the alarmism, sexism, and racial chauvinism that mars so such other writing on this subject, Last is an insightful and trustworthy guide."
Phillip Longman, Senior Fellow of the New America Foundation and author of The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity And What To Do About It
"Jonathan Last's writing matches his reasoning: as clear as a shot of gin, and just as bracing. America is changing more quickly than ever before, and this book explains why. A terrific, important read."
Tucker Carlson, Editor of The Daily Caller
"Jonathan Last's pulled off an amazing feat. He's written a book that's at once lively and profound, that deals with weighty matters with a light touch, and that explains a complex subject clearly. It might make you laugh, it could make you crybut above all it will make you think."
William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Insightful book that's a pleasure to read and shows the staggering truth that America is on the precipice of demographic collapse and about to go the way of Europe. This may be the most influential pro-family, pro-life book in a generation.
The phenomenon this book is describing has been recognized by sociologists for over 30+ years... If the reviewer LSD711 had not filtered whatever they read through their emotions, and had actually paid attention to the phenomenon being discussed, then they would have understood what the author is writing about. Some European countries have passed into this phase of societal maturation. Japan certainly has, and has begun to reach the crisis the author describes. Anyways, the book deserves an objective read, not emotionally tainted and filtered reviews.
I have not read this book, but I did read the review of it in the WSJ. I must respectfully disagree that it is a problem that fertility is dropping- indeed, I hope the trend continues and spreads more widely among all the peoples of the earth. Most problems the earth and the current human population on earth are experiencing are exacerbated by the enormous number of humans on the earth. Traffic, air and water pollution, resource depletion, hunger, violence, war, etc. are all made worse by too many people. Yes, there will be a temporary period (40 years or so) when the needs of aging baby boomers will place strains on relatively fewer young people following them - but after then the earth's human population can stabilize at a lower and more sustainable number.
STOPPED having babies??? How about the women who spend all their savings, time, and energy into trying so hard for a baby but physically can't due to health issues? How about the women who suffer from infertility and PCOS and struggle on a day-to-day basis with watching her friends get pregnant around her so easily and all she wants is to bring life into this world? This man is a moron!