The Great Divide by Alan Nevin

The Great Divide

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A new look at economic trends across the United States compares thriving regions with less successful areas.

In this debut book, Nevin analyzes the economy of the United States against other major world powers and also examines regional trends and strengths within the country’s borders. The volume draws heavily on statistical data, from demographics to gross domestic product, and the author demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of the major economic data categories, from median workforce age to housing prices to cross-industry metrics. The conclusions he draws about other countries’ economic viability are often sweeping and unconventional: Britain “has just never recovered from World War II”; South Koreans “need to acquire North Korea in a leveraged buy-out.” Switching its focus to the United States, the work addresses Rust Belt stagnation, the stability of major East Coast cities, and the ongoing growth in Western states, describing a bright future for many parts of the country. The volume also makes broad assessments of cultural groups: “Where would we be without [Hispanics and Asians] and their pro-business inventiveness?” Nevin asks; Palm Springs “is a crashing bore unless you are gay or into pottery throwing or both.” The book concludes with a series of concise analyses and recommendations for investing in infrastructure and business, and though Nevin sees some regions in a clear and irreversible decline, the overall tone remains optimistic. There are some questionable inferences drawn from population data, like attributing the birthrate decline of the 1960s in part to the John F. Kennedy assassination. The descriptions of personal finance guidelines and economic forces are also likely to raise eyebrows (for example, “In every state and metropolitan area a very rigid formula guides the economy. Every time a basic job is added to the economy, two support jobs are created”). Throughout the work, Nevin’s tone occupies the border between conversational and folksy. But the author is not always clear about the source of the volume’s data; many charts include only partial source citations and others omit attribution entirely

A high-level, if uneven, summary of major trends in national and international economic development, with predictions about the zones likely to be strongest in the near future.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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