What to Expect

Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard in Washington. His writings have been featured in The Wall Street JournalThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostThe Philadelphia InquirerThe New York PostThe Claremont Review of Books, First Things, The Week,SalonSlateTV Guide, and elsewhere.

His book on fertility and demographics, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, is published by Encounter. You can order it now on Amazon, Barnes & NobleIndiebound, and Books-a-Million. And become a friend of the book (or JVL) on Goodreads.

What people are saying about What to Expect When No One’s Expecting:

Abby Schachter, “On Not Bringing Up Baby,” Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2013

David Goldman, “Pregnant Pause,” Claremont Review of Books, Spring 2013

Allison Lin, “Weak Economy Means Fewer Babies,” NBC Today.com, July 9, 2013

World magazine “Books of the Year,” June 29, 2013

Interview on CBS Sunday Morning, May 12, 2013

Interview with Les Sillars, Touchstone, May/June 2013

Bruce Thornton, “The Coming Demographic Crisis,” Defining Ideas, April 25, 2013

Walter Russell Mead, “Capsule Review,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013

Lecture at the Family Research Council, April 3, 2013

Nick Gillespie, “Let It Breed,” BookForum, April/May 2013

Scott Yenor, “Part II: What to Do When No One Is Expecting,” The Blue Review, March 25, 2013

Michael R. Rosen, “Expecting the Unexpected,” The American, March 25, 2013

Electa Draper, “Decline in Birth Rates Breeds Worry,” Denver Post, March 11, 2013

Bill Donohue, “Our Anti-Child Culture,” Catholic League Catalyst, March 2013

David DesRosiers, “What to Expect?” Washington Times, March 4, 2013

Brad Wilcox, “The Empty Cradle?” National Review, March 11, 2013

Mark Tapson, “Why Have Kids?” Acculturated, February 28, 2013

Interview on Fox Business Channel’s Stossel, February 28, 2013

Interview on MSNBC’s The Cycle, February 28, 2013

Interview with John Hawkins on RightWingNews.com, February 27, 2013

Scott Yenor, “Population Decline and the Birth Dearth,” Public Discourse, February 26, 2013

Celeste McGovern, “Demographic Disaster Looms for America,” National Catholic Register, February 26, 2013

Kyle Smith, “Young Americans Should Beware Grandpa Simpson,” New York Post, February 23, 2013

Interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez on National Review Online, February 21, 2013

William McGurn, “Children of Men,” Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2013

Interview with Ed Driscoll on PJ Media, February 18, 2013

AEI Bradley Lecture Series, “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting,” February 11, 2013

AEI’s Banter Podcast, February 11, 2013

Interview on The 700 Club, February 11, 2013

Bryan Caplan, “Demographic Disaster?” February 10, 2013

Justin Green, “What Can We Do About America’s Baby Bust?” Daily Beast, February 8, 2013

Jay Evensen, “Overpopulation? We Should Be So Lucky,” Deseret News, February 7, 2013

JVL on Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, February 6, 2013

Interview on The Blaze Real News, February 6, 2013

Interview on Fox Business Channel Tonight with Lou Dobbs, February 5, 2013

Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online, February 5, 2013

10 Questions with the Daily Caller, February 5, 2013

Interview on CBS This Morning, February 5, 2013

Coffee and Markets Podcast, February 5, 2013

National Review “Between the Covers,” podcast February 5, 2013

Laura Vanderkam, “What to Expect,” February 4, 2013

After Words, C-SPAN2, February 2, 2013

Austin Ruse, “No Babies, No Future,” Crisis magazine, February 1, 2013

Heather Wilhelm, “When Babies Disappear,” RealClearBooks, January 14, 2013

Les Sillars, “America’s Baby Bust,” World magazine, December 19, 2012

Jeff Jacoby, “The Baby Bust Generation,” Boston Globe, December 16, 2012

More JVL on Demographics:

The “Overpopulation” Hoax, The Daily, May 2, 2012

On Wrongful Birth, The Weekly Standard, April 30, 2012

Demography Is Destiny, The Weekly Standard, April 23, 2012

America’s One-Child Policy: A Very Special Episode

7 Billion People, The Weekly Standard, November 14, 2011

China’s Lost Girls, The Weekly Standard, September 26, 2011

The U.N.’s Imaginary Babies, Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2011

Child’s Play with Numbers, WeeklyStandard.com, August 3, 2011

The War Against Girls, Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2011

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2011

Ted, Teddy, and the Natalist Impulse, WeeklyStandard.com, December 7, 2010.

America’s One-Child PolicyThe Weekly Standard, September 27, 2010

There Goes the NeighborhoodThe Weekly Standard, September 13, 2010

The Depopulation of GreenlandThe Weekly Standard, May 17, 2010

Duggar EconomicsWall Street Journal, September 18, 2009

The Population Sink, The Weekly Standard, June 7, 2006.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

blue eyes gone :( February 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Another policy that would work is to control the sex-ratio. After times of war, and in polygamyst societies, the fertility rate is high.


Troy Reinhart February 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Dear Sir:

My business partner and I host a radio show for retail investors. We frequently have guests join us to talk about trends and the business environment. I just ordered your book and would like to know if you would be interested in being a guest on the show to talk about it and the impact of your findings on the economy. If you are please email me at the noted address and we can discuss details. Our next open slot is early May.




jbordycott March 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I’ve been doing some personal research on this subject for some time – became aware of this issue back in 2oo7 when I first received a copy of Economist’s (not exactly a conservative) publicaton “Pocket World in Figures” and stumbled on the incredible falling fertility rates – and populations – in many countries of the world – I have ordered subsequent years’ editions through 2013 with each year confirming this startling downward trend – and each year wondering why I never hear anything in any news media that highlights this trend! The “why” of this was what fascinated me – and I had concluded simply – unscientifically – that it must have to do with the advances and promotion of birth control – the widespread acceptance of abortion and the new tolerence for the gay lifestyle – looking at all of these factors with a detached unemotional and unprejudicial view point. All these factors come with a simple common denominator – less children being born across all levels of society! So hearing about your book one day on a talk radio show I was amazed to find that there is indeed a book out that focuses on exactly what I have been in my limited way trying to convince everyone that would listen to me – inspite of the ridicule that my observations usually produce!!! even though inviting them to go see the data for themselves – I find however that most people I talk to refuse to look beyond the current common acceptance that our world population is in a never ending upward spiral – they simply do not look to 100 years from now – I would hope that those in our government whose job it is to be aware of these trends are aware of this reality and working on a solution!!!! I received your book in the mail this week and can’t put it down !!! Thanks for having the courage to publish this work of yours.


troy garrett March 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

First I really enjoyed your book. It is a fun read funny stories etc. However as a liberal I am still unconvinced this is a problem. Why replacement rate is 2.1 the world is at 2.5. As an American I do not care if we are a nation of Immigrants we always have been. So we are fine we can just have immigrants pick up the slack regardless of where our birth rate is.

I do not see how a Liberal will consider this a problem. Why is it a problem if 100 years from now the world is at 3 billion people? And gets halved every generation that would make an interesting sci-fi book I suppose but I just do not see how it is a problem.


Kate c June 29, 2013 at 12:45 am

It’s a problem because birth and deaths need to be at a finite balance, and not have an aging population on the backs of the young. For example out of 100 youth, there will be 10pc of those whom are entrepreneurial and produce ‘seeds’ or innovations that sustain and support 1000x people of the following years in a businesses creation and wealth distribution. This wealth creation does two things 1) funds families homes and pays for children dependents. and 2) This also yields tax that pays for the elderly dependents in social costs.

If we get these numbers out of balance with an aging population we are screwed. The above is just one example. We cannot have an aging population on the backs of the young. We cannot have 1billion abortions and fruitless hetero and homosexual relations that don’t replace one for mum and one for dad or we end up with what we have now. And as the author says all problems in the world come off this holy grail. the key is “replenishment”. In metaphor it’s like we have filled a swimming pool up to 7b people and all sorts of boomer economical policies have encouraged and forced turning the tap ‘off.’ contraception/homo/abortion. that is the ‘water into’ the pool. And outflow of the pool has also stopped, with people living longer due to elders absorbing the majority of medical resources. Mother Nature is pissed off, she is trying to kill them, but they keep using her young doctors to counter. And what we have then in this stagnant swimming pool, is fungi and algae growing like a dirty pond in stagnation. That’s a metaphor for all the problems we face globally. The world loses its innocence when we actually lose the most innocent beings.

Albeit, the aging population is 50pc of the worlds problems. The other 50pc is financial and resource greed. Concentration of 50pc of the worlds wealth in the hands of 2pc of the population.
Those two combined, is a perfect breeding ground for a revolution, unseen in the history of mankind.


Jen April 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I am currently watching your FRC lecture.

Four years ago my husband and I were diagnosed with infertility. Because of this I found your lack of attention to this major medical crisis glaring.

Every childless couple I have met in the past four years who tells others that they’re childless by choice has at one time been diagnosed as medically infertile. I was shocked that your idea of a childless by choice person wasn’t informed by the average person’s ideal fertility rate.

Medical fertility is declining at terrifying rates. (Did you know that you probably have half the amount of sperm that your grandpa did?) Without attention to this problem, we will only see further decreases.

Pronatalist policies rarely work because they do nothing for the underlying cause of declining fertility rates. Concentrating our focus on motivating those who can have kids and will have them anyway will not produce positive outcomes.

It is my understanding that the only place these policies do work is when they are focused on infertility; such as Israel’s fertility medicine guarantee and their 2.6% growth rate.


Leon April 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Enjoyed your book. Believe that you, Mr. Goldman, and Mr. Steyn are a bit optimistic. None of you have addressed two potential problems that could make the problem bleaker. One is the increasing incidence of sex selection abortion. This is reducing the number of potential fertile females that will grow up in spite of the level that raw numbers of births indicate. Another is that the “greying” of all these countries will be providing fertile ground for a pandemic.


Steve Kahm May 5, 2013 at 2:02 am

Have you considered “artificial children” in the future.
We are on the cusp of having robots do a lot of work for us.
Cooking, cleaning, caring, working robots to replace the need of having children.


Katherine Snider May 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Dear Mr. Last,
I was fascinated to learn of your book on Sunday Morning. I am going to pick up a copy tonight.

The organization for which I work, Baby Buggy, provides families living in poverty with the essentials they need to make sure their children are safe and healthy. By making our donations through anti-poverty programs like Nurse-Family Partnership and Harlem Children’s Zone, we are ensured that our donations are going to parents who are enrolled in programs that will help build their self-sufficiency over the long term. But it’s a struggle: it takes two hours of minimum wage just to afford a pack of diapers in NYC and LA.

I would love to chat with you more about your research at some point. I would love to get your perspective on the growing child poverty rate and some ethical issues we grapple with here at Baby Buggy.


Kevin May 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I hope you’re kidding. Depleting water supplies, global warming (you probably don’t believe that exists either), the exponential increase in the death of natural environments: Arctic sea ice, rain forests, coral reefs, you name it, it’s disappearing. Due to what? May I ask? How about TOO MANY PEOPLE. Especially people that pollute. Continuing to crap all over the place without any regards to the consequences. There’s already too many people, you’re saying there won’t be enough. Just like any other conservative, right wing type who looks up at a bleak, stormy sky and says the sun is shining, don’t worry, keep doing what you’re doing and, while you’re at it, do more of it!

For God’s sake man, stop the lies, the contradictions against common sense. Look around you: see as many trees as you used to? Ever see a bear in the wild? Sure as hell if you look around you’ll see plenty of people – all resplendent in their polluting cars, driving down highways that were made by raping the landscape. And your answer is we don’t have enough!


Kate c June 29, 2013 at 1:01 am

Riddle me this. We have a swimming pool. It has a hose into the pool that gives fresh water. We have medicinal chlorine to keep the water clean while its in the pool. and of course, we also have an exit for water to drain out – just as new water can come in.

The pool has limitations. Meaning today, we have filled the swimming pool up to 7b people.
And somehow, we have turned the tap vastly off in blockage (abortions/contraception/fruitless homo & hetero relationships) And all manner of chlorine (health care) is going into that pool at dangerous levels to maintain the health of the pool. And that too, deceptively, stops the need of the water to exit.

Fore when we stop the CURRENT going in to the pool, all manner of algae and mould and sickly things grow in that swimming pool, to that of a dirty, filthy, inhabitable pond.

So when we are full, do we stop that flow and keep the old dirty water in? Keep trying to chlorinate it? what would you do with your own swimming pool.


Wendy Malley August 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I’m sorry, but you couldn’t honestly think that someone who doesn’t have children is doing something that hurts anyone. Actually the bigger threat to society are all the ill-equipped people that are becoming parents. To suggest more of this should take place is beyond irresponsible, and screams a lack of concern for the world as we know it. Further, the vast majority of problems in this society are directly caused by over population. I cannot believe that you sincerely believe these ramblings – but rather that you are piggy-backing on the success of the actual ‘Expecting’ book series. That is disgraceful. Here’s a thought – have your own successful idea and stop twisting someone else’s success by propagating ridiculous notions. True thinkers are seeing right through your nonsense … And it smells like you are simply an attention hound.


Karen N September 13, 2013 at 12:47 am

I just read the first one hundred pages of your book tonight and found it scary, yet excellent, reading. As a woman approaching the end of my peak fertility years without a glimmer of a wedding ring in sight, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, worrying, despairing about this issue on a personal level recently. Anyway, on to the rest of my comment . . .

Last year, a co-worker announced that he and his wife had just welcomed their third child. While congratulating him out loud, one of the other ladies in our office whispered to me behind her hand, “Three? They should have stopped at two.” to which I responded, “I’m glad someone’s having kids. Who else is going to pay our social security?” She looked a bit taken aback–I could tell she’d never considered what fewer births now mean all of us 30 years down the road.

One thing I don’t believe you mention in your excellent book (though you may and I haven’t gotten to that part yet) is what effect the health risks of birth control pills and abortion have on women and how this might play out if the media ever removes their blinders on the subject. I keep seeing aggressive ads on Facebook about Yaz, the birth control pill–not ads for its use but ambulance chaser ads for women who have been harmed by taking it. These ads make me sad, as most women I know have at one point been on the Pill and I worry about their health down the road. Also, although carrying a pregnancy to term certainly has health risks, abortion carries health risks as well. Women in this country have died from supposedly “safe,” legal, post-Roe-v-Wade abortions. Abortion complications can cause infertility. And one study I read stated that a girl’s chance of later developing breast cancer if she had an abortion by the age of 15 rises to over 15%. There are a lot of studies about this issue out there if you look.

I suspect (and hope) at some point that the media removes its blinders and starts honestly reporting the results of these studies, much like they did with the links between tobacco use and lung/oral cancer. Look what that did to the tobacco industry.


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