Fewer: How the New Demogrpahy of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future
Ben J. Wattenberg. Ivan R. Dee Publisher, $24.95 (252pp) ISBN 978-1-56663-606-3
What starts off as a persuasive statistical analysis dwindles into demagoguery in Wattenberg's latest demographic exploration. Wattenberg (The Real America; The Birth Dearth), expanding on previous work, offers a detailed breakdown of trends toward global depopulation. The previous population projections, he considers, grossly overestimated peak population numbers, and even current U.N. projections, he says, tend toward the high side. The discrepancies are due to dramatically decreasing fertility rates throughout the world, he argues, making population growth rate much slower than anticipated. He predicts that after peaking in the next decades, the rate will drop sharply. Wattenberg's book examines these numbers, their causes and their ramifications. Keeping his statistics comprehensible to the demographic novice, he makes a strong case against environmentalist praise of depopulation and skillfully analyzes the economic and social situations that might occur if his predictions play out. However, as Wattenberg surveys the reasons behind declining fertility rates, his arguments take an assertive turn. Wattenberg bemoans abortion, women who put careers before children, homosexuality and co-habitation without marriage--all with little of the statistical analysis that bolsters his initial arguments. Wattenberg himself says,""straightforward demographic numbers can engender mighty arguments,"" but doesn't let his own numbers speak for themselves.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2004