An award-winning journalist and leading international social researcher make the provocative argument that the global population will soon begin to decline, dramatically reshaping the social, political, and economic landscape
For half a century, statisticians, pundits, and politicians have warned that a burgeoning population will soon overwhelm the earth's resources. But a growing number of experts are sounding a different alarm. Rather than continuing to increase exponentially, they argue, the global population is headed for a steep decline—and in many countries, that decline has already begun.
In Empty Planet, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker find that a smaller global population will bring with it many benefits: fewer workers will command higher wages; the environment will improve; the risk of famine will wane; and falling birthrates in the developing world will bring greater affluence and autonomy for women.
But enormous disruption lies ahead, too. We can already see the effects in Europe and parts of Asia, as aging populations and worker shortages weaken the economy and impose crippling demands on healthcare and social security. The United States and Canada are well-positioned to successfully navigate these coming demographic shifts—that is, unless growing isolationism leads us to close ourselves off just as openness becomes more critical to our survival than ever.
Rigorously researched and deeply compelling, Empty Planet offers a vision of a future that we can no longer prevent—but one that we can shape, if we choose.
Praise for Empty Planet “An ambitious reimagining of our demographic future.”—The New York Times Book Review “The authors combine a mastery of social-science research with enough journalistic flair to convince fair-minded readers of a simple fact: Fertility is falling faster than most experts can readily explain, driven by persistent forces.”—The Wall Street Journal
“The beauty of this book is that it links hard-to-grasp global trends to the easy to-understand individual choices being made all over the world today . . . a gripping narrative of a world on the cusp of profound change.”—The New Statesman
“John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker have written a sparkling and enlightening guide to the contemporary world of fertility as small family sizes and plunging rates of child-bearing go global.”–The Globe and Mail