So the good news is that we broke Amazon. And the Kindle version is available. The bad news is that Amazon is out of hardcovers and waiting for the second printing. Further good news is that Barnes & Noble still has hardcovers and the Nook version available.
I’ve got an op-ed up on immigration and fertility rates over at the Los Angeles Times.
Then there are two reviews out. The first is from the Daily Beast’s Justin Green, who did the only thing a writer can really ask of a reviewer: He read the book carefully. I’m really grateful for that.
I don’t want to say too much about Ruy’s review–if he read the book and wasn’t convinced by the data and research I assembled, then fair enough. Also, I’m a big fan of his work. Have been for a long time, and so I’m really inclined to assume the best. I’ll just suggest that I think it’s possible that if Ruy were to go back and read the book a little more closely, he’d find that–at the very least–I’m more careful than he’s giving me credit for in his review.
For instance, I don’t “reject out of hand” proposals about government setting up something like affordable, national daycare. What I say is this:
The best-case results suggest that the natalist programs—which essentially pay parents enough to put their kids in day care so that they can go to work—have created a small, positive effect. A large body of the research suggests they’ve had no effect at all, other than to nudge the timing of births slightly later in a woman’s life and closer together.
There are footnotes to this with links to the research, because I tried to make What to Expect as data-driven as possible, since a lot of the assumptions we hold about demographics and public policies turn out either not to be true, or to be more complicated than we think. Now maybe Ruy is unconvinced by the research on this–and that’s fine, though to my mind the body of it is fairly compelling. But my point is that if we decide that something like Scandinavian-style national daycare is a good which we value on its own, then so be it–but that there is research on its efficacy which suggests we should not expect more than marginal returns from it.
He also seems to fundamentally mis-understand the immigration section of What to Expect, where he says I’m not “interested” in seeing more immigration. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how that was his takeaway from the book. Here’s one passage on the subject from What to Expect, for instance:
So in sum: Immigration isn’t as good for your demographic profile as baby-making—and it causes lots of problems.20 Yet we are lucky to have it for as long as it lasts. Think of it as a hedge against our native fertility rate, should we continue down the slope toward Ital- ian or Japanese levels (as Second Demographic Transition theory suggests we will).
Again, there are footnotes in there showing that these statements are all based on research in the field. But like I said, I don’t want to belabor all of this.
If Ruy didn’t like What to Expect, or found it unconvincing, that’s fine by me. He’s a really smart guy. And as I said, I respect his judgment and generally admire his work quite a lot. But again, I think if he were to give the book a closer reading, his judgments might be a little different.