March 31, 2010

YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET:

The More, the Better: As Europe and Asia become 'veritable old-age homes,' the U.S. will enjoy the benefits of a growing population: a review of The Next Hundred Million By Joel Kotkin (Nick Schulz, 3/31/10, WSJ)

For Mr. Kotkin, population growth translates into economic vitality—the capacity to create wealth, raise the standard of living and meet the burdens of future commitments. Thus a country with a youthful demographic, in relative terms, enjoys a big advantage over its global counterparts. In the next four decades, Mr. Kotkin observes, "most of the developed countries in both Europe and Asia will become veritable old-age homes" because of stagnant population growth. And the economies of these countries, already devoted to a vast welfare-state apparatus, will face crushing pension obligations—but without the young workers to defray the cost.

Inevitably, Europe and Asia will decline, Mr. Kotkin predicts, and America will thrive. Indeed, the U.S. will emerge, he says, "as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in human history." What about the billion-person behemoth across the Pacific? Not to worry. Mr. Kotkin thinks that, by midcentury, China's one-child policy will cause it, too, to suffer from the burdens of an aging population.

If Mr. Kotkin is right about America's "next hundred million" people being the key to its happy destiny, where are these people going to live? In the suburbs, he believes—and why not? For most Americans, Mr. Kotkin writes, the suburbs represent "the best, most practical choice for raising their families and enjoying the benefits of community." He adds that, even with one hundred million more people, the U.S. "will still be only one sixth as crowded as Germany." In short, there is lots of room to grow.



Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2010 6:18 PM
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