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Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  618 ratings  ·  142 reviews
From the authors of the bestselling The Big Shift, a 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 planetary population will soon overwhelm the earth's resources. But a growing number of
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Signal Books
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Miranda Reads
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Population decline isn't a good thing or a bad thing. But it is a big thing.
Throughout my childhood, I've heard time and time again about the rise and fall of human population.

Well, for the past few decades, we saw a rise like no other but soon (very soon) that will reverse.

And the consequences will affect everyone, everywhere.
The human herd has been culled in the past by famine or plague. This time, we are culling ourselves...
And what has changed so much that the human
Charles J
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Anybody who has been paying attention has long grasped the truth: underpopulation, not overpopulation, is our problem. This will soon be true on a global scale, it is already true in most of the developed world. "Empty Planet" explains why this is undeniably so. Unfortunately, the explanation is shrouded in confusion and ideological distortion, so the authors are never able to provide a clear message. Instead, they offer rambling, contradictory bromides combined with dumb “solutions” until the ...more
Peter Tillman
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WSJ Review:
"Pulling examples from extensive on-the-ground research in settings as disparate as São Paulo favelas, Seoul universities and Nairobi businesses, 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. In Brazil and China astonishing numbers of women opt for
Angie Boyter
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A 3+ for sure and maybe rounded up later if I find myself talking about the book to friends!
A different take on world population trends and their implications
It is almost a cliché today to speak about global overpopulation and its implications for humanity and our planet. The United Nations predicts that the world population will grow from seven billion to eleven billion in this century then level off sometime after 2100. In Empty Planet Canadian authors John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
As far as I can remember, the received wisdom on the future of the earth has always been that humanity is reproducing at unsustainable rates, consuming more and more resources in the process. Thomas Malthus suggested it first in 1798. It was reiterated more forcefully in the 1960s by William Paddock, Paul Paddock, and Paul Ehrlich. Now, in the 21st century, we have almost daily reminders of the earth's bleak future by climate change activists. If overpopulation doesn't get you, climate change ...more
Chris Edwards
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Empty Planet is a worthwhile read, though it does have its blind spots. Its fundamental thesis that urbanization and education are accelerating fertility declines at a much faster rate than the media and powers that be are indicating, and that that will have profound consequences, is sound. Indeed, it’s refreshing to read a book that aims to go against the grain of opinion – as so many claim to do – that’s written by bona fide professionals who have worked in the field. The complex topics of ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received this book as a First Read. I considered doing a DNF but decided to finish reading it just to see what other nonsense the author had to share. He uses some serious semantic and mental gymnastics to declare that we have already eradicated famine and extreme poverty throughout the world. He also spins some yarns about natural resources not being depleted. The book as a whole reads as a giant propaganda piece by corporations to encourage people to continue to do what they're doing and ...more
Jen Juenke
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was an eye opener. I never thought about some of the ramifications that can/could/are happening with population stagnation and population decline.
The authors lay out their argument of depopulation of the Earth might be the best thing to happen. The more educated women are, less religion in the society, and other factors are driving the decrease of fertility rates.
I loved all of the facts, stats, and stories, especially the dinner parties around the world.
The future is not all doom
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Forget about Malthus and his spiritual descendants. Depopulation is the real problem. Urbanisation, high living standard, contraception, abortion, emancipation and education of women and government intervention (one child policy, stop at 2 in Asia) all drive this trend. There is no escape. The authors travelled around the globe to interview women and asked how many children they would like: basically mostly 1 to 2.

Countries without immigration such as Japan, Korea, China, Russia and Eastern
Bryan Alexander
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful, very accessible, and at times very surprising book.

Why is Empty Planet a surprise? Because for a couple of generations many people dreaded human overpopulation as a planetary challenge of the highest order. As I wrote in 2017,
Back in the 1960s and 70s many people feared overpopulation, and for good reasons. Human population was rising. Serious research, most notably The Limits To Growth (1972; based on a powerful computer simulation), suggested crises to come, ranging from
Mark Lawry
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new here to anybody who read books on economics at any point after about 1900. We all know rich nations such as France and Canada well before WWI knew they had a problem. They have been trying to implement policies to push up fertility rates all this time. None of them have ever worked. This fact was known before modern cheap birth control methods.

After WWII there was a global conspiracy to improve lives everywhere by building international institutions such as the United Nations. This
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the most hopeful books I have read in a while. For years, demographers and environmentalists have warned of the Malthusian trap; increasing human numbers coupled with limited natural resources will lead to widespread famine, economic dislocations, wars and ultimately the breakdown of society. After Malthus's initial prediction failed to materialize, subsequent generations have put forward similar stories with their own twists: Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, the Club of Rome's ...more
Contrary to the very popular doomsayer warning, we should not worry about the overpopulation, but rather take heed of the alarming trend in declining fertility rate on the global scale. Soon enough the overwhelming boom will reach its peak and the numbers will slowly start counting backwards. For some nations, like China, the change will come like a crashing down avalanche. For some it will be a slow trickle. But nevermind the pace, the reality is that most countries will end up with the largest ...more
Christopher Moellering
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rcpl
It is cliché to call a book paradigm-shifting, but I don't know how else to describe this work by Canadian authors on the future of global population trends. In the same way that The Lexus and the Olive Tree opened my eyes to globalization twenty years ago, this one revealed the forces shaping our future as a species.

With a large number of citations (endnotes, alas) they tell the impact of urbanization upon global population trends. The debunk the rhetoric and fears of the zero-population growth
Cherry (_forevermint)
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookmail, nonfiction
This was such a fascinating book to read! I enjoyed how the book goes into depth of how population is declining in various places all over the world and the causes. Some of the stuff did get repetitive and some chapters were a little more dry than others but overall, it was a really interesting read. I also appreciate the authors' humor sprinkled throughout.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, nonfiction
Empty Planet : The Shock of Global Population Decline (2019) by Darrel Bricker and John Ibbitson is a fascinating book that makes the case the global population is likely to peak sooner than UN population predictions suggest and looks at why populations are declining and the what the impact of declining populations is likely to be. It's a fascinating book because the fact that fertility levels are below replacement in almost all developed countries and many other countries is largely ignored.

May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick read and a relatively short book. I'm so used to thinking of the population expanding and the impact of the increasingly too many humans on the planet, that the idea of the decline is hard to grasp. There were a lot of references in this book, but the authors really didn't pummel you with the facts in your face. But the facts seem clear. The population of the planet almost certainly will decline and not very long from now. And in specific places in the world it is already doing that. And ...more
Anita Lyons
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Super interesting read. Would give 3.5 stars. They are a bit US/Canada centric — this part was mediocre — I found the most interesting chapters the ones where they talked about other parts of world because I learned a lot.

Good news: the global population will likely start declining by mid century! They predict a “geriatric peace” as old people abound. Environment will be happier too
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I really have mixed feelings on this book.

If I rated it in terms of how well-written and interesting it was, it's an easy 5. I was really impressed with the amount of data that was presented to support the thesis - that we have much more to fear from dwindling population in the future vs. the commonly-accepted theory that the earth will be overpopulated - as well as the easily understandable and often humorous way in which it is presented.

But it goes astray with a leftist view of open
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-affairs
As long as I can remember, I have heard talk about the overpopulated world that we are moving towards and the dire consequences it has for our future.

But even as the number of people on our planet continues to rise (at least for the time being), an underpopulation time bomb appears to be our future. Already many countries in Europe and Asia see stagnant growth rates with ageing populations and a low number of births.

While this might seem on the face of it not such a bad thing, "Empty Planet" by
Chris Csergei
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Empty Planet is an insightful book that is willing to go beyond accepted wisdom! The authors look at global population decline, bringing together a lot of history, statistics and data that so many others seem to be ignoring. They reject the standard talking points about population growth to look at what is really happening increase in world population. While there are many questions or predictions about the future that can not be answered, the trend-lines that they examine can give someone a lot ...more
Jocelyn (foxonbooks)
DNF for me - an interesting concept that I was looking forward to exploring, but a little too sensational and with a bit too much focus on drama over facts. Just my opinion, and I can definitely appreciate how dramatising a topic helps people connect with dry subject matter/stats. I'm an analyst so it didn't hit that mark for me.
Matthew Aujla
Demographics! Demographics! Demographics!

The authors are preaching to the choir. The world is not only getting older, it’s about to start shrinking. It’s not just Japan, it’s a global phenomenon wherever there are urbanised & educated women. How do we sustain economic growth, consumer markets, housing markets in an depopulating world?
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"The great defining event of the twenty-first century—one of the great defining events in human history—will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population starts to decline. Once that decline begins, it will never end. We do not face the challenge of a population bomb but of a population bust—a relentless, generation-after-generation culling of the human herd. Nothing like this has ever happened before.” (p. 2).

Everything about the idea of
Ailith Twinning
Aug 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
A badly defended assertion, wrapped entirely in cliche and outright shibboleth.
As for the politics. . .ugh. America desperately needs an actual left. His take on immigration is outright offensive, imperialist, trash. Bloody Liberals.
May 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was a one page article, at most, expanded into book form.
Kai Inkinen
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
2 & 1/2 stars. Really disn’t feel that insightful. The prediction of population decline and lower fertility is believable, but should’ve come with a bit more than ”we feel this way”-type of anecdotal interviews and stories.
Bill T.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though-provoking, but I kept asking myself why they kept referring to "catastrophic population loss". What's the catastrophe? There's some hint of economic demand-driven stagnation, but I'm not impressed. Young folks buy video games, old folks buy prescription medication -- demand is demand, to a first approximation. Finally, at the end, the authors fess up and give all kinds of reasons why fewer people might actually alleviate a lot of the world's ills. That said, I doubt the younger generation ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
We have been taught by the deejays of doom in the media, the hard-left apocalyptic political class and their ‘scientists’ at the United Nations that the end is nigh. Water wars; energy shocks; rising of sea levels swamping first Venice then Miami and Los Angeles and Rio. ‘Climate change’ bringing drought first and then flooding causing agricultural collapse and heralding famine beginning with the poorest and then working its way up the “Great Chain of Being” to our new nobilities sitting ...more
Andrea Cameron
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting and important issues affecting our world’s future were succinctly described and contemplated. Highly recommended.
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