cover image One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger

Matthew Yglesias. Portfolio, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-19021-0

In this provocative treatise, Vox cofounder Yglesias (Heads in the Sand) argues that a large-scale population increase brought about by higher birth rates and relaxed immigration policies will improve America’s overall wealth, health, happiness, and productivity. He explains that the country’s current population decline makes it difficult to keep pace with China economically; examines how child-rearing costs have prevented people from having as many children as they want to (or any at all); and weighs options for alleviating those costs, including universal child subsidies and more liberal parental leave policies. Meanwhile, immigration benefits American society, according to Yglesias, by contributing new ideas and technologies and, in some cases, lowering health care costs. An increased population, he writes, could help to revitalize cities and towns that have suffered declines in recent years, such as Baltimore, Cleveland, and Detroit, and spur improvements in education, transportation, and housing. Though he points out that promising alternative energy solutions are already available or in the works, and that the U.S. “does not hold the fate of global atmospheric conditions solely in its hands,” Yglesias’s attempt to persuade environmentalists concerned that more people means more emissions isn’t entirely convincing. Still, his views on immigration and urban renewal are well researched and convincing. This optimistic call to action is worth considering. (Sept.)