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Empty Planet

The Shock of Global Population Decline
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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)

©2019 Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"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)

“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)

“Arresting...lucid, trenchant and very readable, the authors' arguments upend consensus ideas about everything from the environment to immigration; the result is a stimulating challenge to conventional wisdom." (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

“Warnings of catastrophic world overpopulation have filled the media since the 1960s, so this expert, well-researched explanation that it's not happening will surprise many readers...delightfully stimulating.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)  

"Thanks to the authors’ painstaking fact-finding and cogent analysis, [Empty Planet] offers ample and persuasive arguments for a re-evaluation of conventional wisdom." (Booklist)  

What members say

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Worth the Listen

THis is an entertaining and thought provoking analysis of global population growth and anticipated decline. It gives some interesting balance to the prevalent worry of overpopulation that sometimes seems to be the only expectation in the general discussion. Generally, they seem to be trying to be fair and balanced in their comments. The humour helps.

At times, I wondered if the authors were not a bit too optimistic. I found myself thinking; what are we missing in the overall equation of a potentially declining population. I don't know, but I still keep wondering.

What I miss is the charts and graphs I suspect are in the books. This is an inherent problem with audio books. No way to look at references, foot notes, etc. Having that information helps validate the arguments presented.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard Spicer
  • 2019-02-22

Spends too long proving his theory

12 chapters about population decline 1 chapter on what it means for the future. Kind of a giant political statement about the benefits of immigration... I believed the stats after a few minutes but was mostly curious about how to prepare for a future with many more old people.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebekah Verbeten
  • 2019-02-09

Provocative

A much needed counterpoint to the dogma that unrestrained population growth will continue. Powerful vignettes of real people woven together with data from across the globe examining why population growth has declined dramatically in recent decades.

The secondary theme throughout is a thoughtful critique of the shortsightedness of countries who have unilaterally shut their doors throughout history and the impacts on their societies.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael F. Watson
  • 2019-08-19

Great Data

The data presented in this book are astonishing. By and large the authors’ conclusions are sound and convincing. Unfortunately, they just can’t quite keep their politics out of the commentary and this undermines their credibility.

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  • Arrowsmith
  • 2019-08-07

Ineresting Premise

This book was interesting and the subject of population decline doesn't get enough attention. However, while the book doesn't really give any solutions. The authors are clearly advocates of multiculturalism and immigration which they present one hand as the primary solution to low fertility while saying with the other they are only temporary stop gaps. The authors are skeptical of population status from some sources but accept others at face value. Overall it nailed the idea that population's are declining and that this is a big problem no one is talking about, which is good. However, their only solutions are badically liberal propoganda points without really demonstrating how they are solutions.

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  • Ryan Kemp
  • 2019-04-10

Fascinating stuff

I'm a little biased toward this idea since I agree Earth can't support this many people, and people believe what they want to.

But the book puts out some very interesting theories, ideas and facts. If you at all enjoyed An Inconvenient Truth, or other environmental media, you'll love this book. It gets into numbers and statistics in the middle, so it kinda drags, but hey, that's research. The authors also break it down into broad strokes, so anyone can understand.

The book does get a little subjective at points, understandably; but the objective quality outweighs the op-ed sections.

Also it's written by Canadians and who doesn't love them!

I really hope this book's theories are right.

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  • Narada
  • 2019-02-26

Prog propaganda leavened with interesting facts

This book is repulsively preachy, and chock full of the standard progressive dogma "multiculturalism good! migration good! Trump bad! Global warming! empowerment! Africa is the cradle of civilization! Lagos is the next Tokyo! Indigenous culture should be protected! Unless the indigenous people happen to be white!" Total horseshit. Actual nuggets of fact/statistics are fairly interesting

1 of 6 people found this review helpful