Book Summary & Highlights: Slowdown By Daniel Dorley

Book Summary & Highlights: Slowdown By Daniel Dorley



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Amazon Summary

A powerful and counterintuitive argument that we should welcome the current slowdown - of population growth, economies, and technological innovation

Drawing from an incredibly rich trove of global data, this groundbreaking book reveals that human progress has been slowing down since the early 1970s. Danny Dorling uses compelling visualizations to illustrate how fertility rates, growth in GDP per person, increases in life expectancy, and even the frequency of new social movements have all steadily declined over the last few generations.

Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that even as new technologies frequently reshape our everyday lives and are widely believed to be propelling our civilization into new and uncharted waters, the rate of technological progress is also rapidly dropping.

Rather than lament this turn of events, Dorling embraces it as a moment of promise and a move toward stability, and he notes that many of the older great strides in progress that have defined recent history also brought with them widespread warfare, divided societies, and massive inequality.

About Author: Danny Dorling

Danny Dorling is the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford.

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Chapter 1. To Worry: Imaginatively

Population Increase Plateau

Over the past 160 years our numbers have doubled and doubled and almost doubled again. Never before have we seen such a huge rise in human population in so few generations. Never again will we. Today our population growth is slowing down.


Personal Highlights

Implications Of A Sudden Slowdown

The great acceleration that has occurred in recent generations created the culture in which we live. It created our current expectation for a particular kind of progress.
Imagine that you have spent your life on a speeding train and you suddenly feel the brakes being applied. You would worry what was about to happen next.
It is because we have so few examples of slowdown to draw on from the past couple of centuries that we find our times especially confusing today.

Advertising In A Slow World

Sales tactics that worked only because of accelerating social, economic, political, and demographic change—because of the ever-expanding market—will no longer bring the same rewards during, and especially following, the slowdown. This is partly why tech companies now throw so many more advertisements at us every day. Those who market goods that are not much needed, that you might be persuaded to think you need but that do not increase your well-being, are becoming ever more desperate as we all become collectively wiser.

Dorling, Danny. Slowdown (p. 8). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Population Deceleration

Fortuitously, human population growth began to slow down dramatically in the late 1960s
There is now nowhere where the population is any longer accelerating. Deceleration has become the norm, and today in much of Europe, the Far East, and in large parts of the Americas, total human population numbers are falling.
It is most likely that a century from now the average number of children in a family will be fewer than two.


This would also mean a continuously aging population for many decades to come, but the rate of aging will itself also slow in the near future as the rise in human life expectancy slows down.4 The age of the world’s oldest person has not increased in the past twenty years.5
Worldwide life expectancy, men and women combined, 1950-2099. (Data adapted from United Nations,
Worldwide life expectancy, men and women combined, 1950-2099. (Data adapted from United Nations, World Population Prospects)

Benefits Of Slowdown

  • Less inequality
  • Less keeping up with "new things"
  • More durable goods, less waste
  • Social and environmental problems that we currently worry about will not be problems in the future.

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