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The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050

af Joel Kotkin

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1033269,480 (3.5)3
Business. Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:Visionary social thinker Joel Kotkin looks ahead to America in 2050, revealing how the addition of one hundred million Americans by midcentury will transform how we all live, work, and prosper.
In stark contrast to the rest of the world's advanced nations, the United States is growing at a record rate and, according to census projections, will be home to four hundred million Americans by 2050. This projected rise in population is the strongest indicator of our long-term economic strength, Joel Kotkin believes, and will make us more diverse and more competitive than any nation on earth.
Drawing on prodigious research, firsthand reportage, and historical analysis, The Next Hundred Million reveals how this unprecedented growth will take physical shape and change the face of America. The majority of the additional hundred million Americans will find their homes in suburbia, though the suburbs of tomorrow will not resemble the Levittowns of the 1950s or the sprawling exurbs of the late twentieth century. The suburbs of the twenty-first century will be less reliant on major cities for jobs and other amenities and, as a result, more energy efficient. Suburbs will also be the melting pots of the future as more and more immigrants opt for dispersed living over crowded inner cities and the majority in the United States becomes nonwhite by 2050.
In coming decades, urbanites will flock in far greater numbers to affordable, vast, and autoreliant metropolitan areas-such as Houston, Phoenix, and Las Vegas-than to glamorous but expensive industrial cities, such as New York and Chicago. Kotkin also foresees that the twenty-first century will be marked by a resurgence of the American heartland, far less isolated in the digital era and a crucial source of renewable fuels and real estate for a growing population. But in both big cities and small towns across the country, we will see what Kotkin calls "the new localism"-a greater emphasis on family ties and local community, enabled by online networks and the increasing numbers of Americans working from home.
The Next Hundred Million provides a vivid snapshot of America in 2050 by focusing not on power brokers, policy disputes, or abstract trends, but rather on the evolution of the more intimate units of American society-families, towns, neighborhoods, industries. It is upon the success or failure of these communities, Kotkin argues, that the American future rests.
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A welcome departure from the litany of doom and gloom often on the menu for "the future of America", and interesting in its own right.

Notable gaps reading it now: it was written pre-Trump, so it's predictions/dependence on immigration levels, the evolution of racial attitudes and politics, etc. seem glaring and... well, we'll have to see. And, though it mentions the environment several times, there is nothing in here that seriously takes on climate-change-induced issues. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Aug 12, 2023 |
The majority criticism aimed at this book appears to come from flawed premises. "America cannot sustain its people now never mind another 100 million," some have said. Also, there is a severe pessimism in the current economic climate. The flaw is in assuming it's going to be this way for a long time.

This recession is bad, but it will be a mere blip in history. This country will rebound stronger than ever by the reasons presented in this book.

America is not a zero-sum game. Adding 100 million more people in the next 40 years does not equal taking away from 100 million others. These 100 million will be younger, smarter and just as committed to a better life for themselves and their families. They will generate wealth and resources which will fuel the growth, not accelerate the decline.

Other than population growth, the next strongest point this book makes is the case for suburban living. The downside of the suburbs is commuting and a decentralized urban core. The commute problem is being solved by smaller businesses in the local area and global network connectivity reducing the need to be in a central location (like an office). Unlike commuting, decentralizing the urban core is not fixable, nor should it be. Strong urban centers will either be over-crowded or over-priced, and young families will overwhelmingly seek a better life elsewhere.

Has the recession got you down? I recommend this book for the clear case it makes that America will survive and thrive. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Sep 1, 2010 |
The population of the US is currently 310 million. Most projections point to the population rising to at least 400 million by 2050. If that comes to pass the density of the US population will still only be 1/6 the population density of Germany. The US has 52 Metropolitan Statistical Areas with populations above 1,000,000. It has 366 MSAs. It takes at least 50,000 people to qualify for MSA status. There are vast differences in these MSAs. Some are majority Latino. Some are white majority. African Americans are near majority in some. Many are diverse and ethnically mixed. Few will be majority white in 2050.

Americans like a front yard, a back yard, and cars. 80% of all growth in the last ten years happened in suburbs and exurbs. Suburbs are becoming denser but anti-growth sentiments in most of them keep them from becoming city-dense. Many have predicted the end of surburbia but it hasn't happened, isn't happening, and is unlikely to happen. 30 million Americans now telecommute, many near full-time and more and more part-time. It takes pressure off of commuting times and expenses. With technology advances it can be done from near anywhere. Many suburbs now have populations of 500,000 or more. Sometimes they are classified as edge cities.

The coasts are becoming too expensive for some and this is leading to growth in some areas of the 'Heartland' away from the coasts. Agricultural byproducts including fuels and consumer products are creating jobs in areas that had been losing population. Americans like 'local' governments but have a love/hate relationship with federal government. Counting state, county, city, town, and other small entities, America has 65,000 governments. Local and small is preferred over big and national. Locales will come to very different conclusions in regards to dealing with problems or perceived problems. People will move to areas that fit their lifestyles and politics.

Kotkin stays mostly politically neutral throughout the book and sticks to facts and statistics. There is much to read between the lines though. For example, Americans are often accused of voting against their self-interests. However, 16% of Americans are self-employed. There are 26 million microenterprises that employ less than four people. Even among those pulling a paycheck from an employer, several million of them dabble in 'moonlighting' self-employment. Add these sectors up and they exceed union members by about 12 million.

The US has a positive immigration inflow from all areas of the world. That is, more are coming from those countries to the US than the other way round. European immigration has slowed to a trickle but there are around 400,000 EU science and technology graduates residing in the US. Only one in seven is planning to leave soon. Legal immigration is running at 1 million people per year. In 2008, 1,046,539 were naturalized as US citizens- a record.

Overall, Kotkin is optimistic and makes his points well. I found it hard to disagree with his conclusions about how America might look in 2050. Still religious, mostly suburban, diverse, family oriented, and pessimistically optimistic. Kind of like it is now. Whether one will be happy or not in such a US future is another discussion. ( )
  VisibleGhost | May 7, 2010 |
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Business. Politics. Sociology. Nonfiction. HTML:Visionary social thinker Joel Kotkin looks ahead to America in 2050, revealing how the addition of one hundred million Americans by midcentury will transform how we all live, work, and prosper.
In stark contrast to the rest of the world's advanced nations, the United States is growing at a record rate and, according to census projections, will be home to four hundred million Americans by 2050. This projected rise in population is the strongest indicator of our long-term economic strength, Joel Kotkin believes, and will make us more diverse and more competitive than any nation on earth.
Drawing on prodigious research, firsthand reportage, and historical analysis, The Next Hundred Million reveals how this unprecedented growth will take physical shape and change the face of America. The majority of the additional hundred million Americans will find their homes in suburbia, though the suburbs of tomorrow will not resemble the Levittowns of the 1950s or the sprawling exurbs of the late twentieth century. The suburbs of the twenty-first century will be less reliant on major cities for jobs and other amenities and, as a result, more energy efficient. Suburbs will also be the melting pots of the future as more and more immigrants opt for dispersed living over crowded inner cities and the majority in the United States becomes nonwhite by 2050.
In coming decades, urbanites will flock in far greater numbers to affordable, vast, and autoreliant metropolitan areas-such as Houston, Phoenix, and Las Vegas-than to glamorous but expensive industrial cities, such as New York and Chicago. Kotkin also foresees that the twenty-first century will be marked by a resurgence of the American heartland, far less isolated in the digital era and a crucial source of renewable fuels and real estate for a growing population. But in both big cities and small towns across the country, we will see what Kotkin calls "the new localism"-a greater emphasis on family ties and local community, enabled by online networks and the increasing numbers of Americans working from home.
The Next Hundred Million provides a vivid snapshot of America in 2050 by focusing not on power brokers, policy disputes, or abstract trends, but rather on the evolution of the more intimate units of American society-families, towns, neighborhoods, industries. It is upon the success or failure of these communities, Kotkin argues, that the American future rests.

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