How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work

Robert J. Shapiro

St. Martin's Press

What will life be like in America, Europe, Japan or China in the year 2020? 

As everyone’s lives across the world are become increasingly interconnected by globalization and new technologies quicken the pace of everything, the answer to that question depends on the fate and paths of the world’s major nations.   In Futurecast, Robert Shapiro, former U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce and Chairman/Co-founder of Sonecon, looks into the future to tell us what our world will over the next dozen years.  Though that time span seems brief, Shapiro foresees monumental changes caused by three historic new forces—globalization, the aging of societies, and the rise of America as a sole superpower with no near peer— will determine the paths of nations and the lives of countless millions. What jobs will there be for you and your children?  What will happen to your health care? How safe will you be at home or abroad?  Answers to these questions will depend, even more than today, on where you live in the world:

• Even as China expands its military and its economy, America will be the world’s sole superpower for at least the next generation, and continue to lead efforts to preserve global security and stability. 

• The U.S. and China will be the world’s two indispensable economies, dominating the course of globalization. 

• Globalization will continue to shift most heavy manufacturing and millions of high-end service jobs from advanced countries like the US, to China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Romania, Turkey and other developing nations.

• Europe’s major nations and Japan will face the prospect of genuine economic decline and critical problems in their retirement pension systems, moving further towards the periphery of global economic and geopolitical power.

• Every major country—the U.S., Europe, Japan, China—will face critical problems with their health care systems, and the entire world will face a crisis over energy and climate change.  

If one adds the wildcard of possible, catastrophic terrorist attacks to this mix, the period between now and 2020 will be as challenging as any in modern times. Taking these deep global developments into account when planning for the future isa necessity.  Robert Shapiro’s clear-eyed Futurecast is the knowledge portfolio you need to prepare for the years to come.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Enormous changes happen to most people over any ten- or fifteen-year period. Your brain and body, wants and desires, circumstances and prospects, all change as you grow from a five-year-old to a young adult of twenty, from a new husband or wife of twenty-five to early middle age, and from a fifty-year-old at the height of your career to a grandparent of sixty-five. Societies usually change less than most individuals over fifteen-year periods. Most societies have much longer lifetimes, too—although occasionally a great event like a war or an exceptional boom can shake up a nation’s



  • Robert J. Shapiro discusses Futurecast at the Bernard Schwartz Forum

    Watch this video to hear Dr. Robert J. Shapiro talk about his book Futurecast at the Bernard Schwartz Forum on Economic Policy on May 5, 2008. Dr. Robert Shapiro, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative, and Simon Rosenberg, NDN President, discuss U.S. politics, the economy, globalization, and world affairs at large.



Praise for Futurecast

FUTURECAST was chosen by the US Chamber of Commerce as one of the 10 "Books that Drive the Debate" for 2008

"Rob Shapiro's prescient and insightful book probes the confluence of challenges that society will face in the coming years. He argues that our world has become increasingly interdependent, and we must foster global cooperation to achieve a sustainable existence with equal opportunity for all. Futurecast is a vital resource for anyone seeking to understand the world our children will inherit."-- President Bill Clinton

“a storm warning at a time when food shortages, higher energy prices and a credit crunch are forcing our heads out of the sand: if they turn to Futurecast 2020 , they will find an argument that gives us a measure of what we should expect from our political leaders - and from ourselves - if we are to continue our civilisation on the high plateau we have managed to reach.”--The Financial Times

"Entertaining and educational. Shapiro deftly pulls together facts and figures to back up his statements. An illuminating, satisfying read."--Kirkus

"Alarming but challenging. A dense yet well-written overview of teh heavy factors that will remake the world. A thorough and gifted analysis."--Management Today

“A new world economy is emerging before our very eyes. Robert Shapiro not only understands the breadth and depth of these enormous changes but also is able to communicate them in a way that is clear, powerful and readily understandable. This is a brilliantly written book and a compelling analysis -- that provides extremely valuable insights into the enormous and historic transitions now underway that will profoundly affect the world's major economies for decades to come.”--Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International

“In America today, we are sorely in need of the big ideas that will elevate our electoral and legislative processes above the level of fundraising and high stakes lobbying.  In Futurecast, Robert Shapiro creates the fertile ground from which these big ideas will spring by accurately predicting how all our lives will be changed, in the near future, by aging populations, globalization and the rise and fall of the superpowers.  This book is a must-read as we head into this first half of the twenty-first century."--Al From, CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council

“Robert Shapiro understands the world and all of its complexity from the rise and fall of nations to the problem of aging populations.  No one is better equipped to tell us where we're headed in the not-so-distant future.”-- Rolf Ekeus, High Commissioner on National Minorities (UN), former Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commssion on Iraq and former Swedish Amassador to the United States

“In 1992 Rob Shapiro's analysis of the big changes in globalization became the intellectual framework for the Clinton campaign and Presidency.  In this new book Rob returns to the subject and has written a book that is likely to do in 2008 what he did once before - offer the economic framework for the President and the nation.   This book is a must read for any one trying to make sense of how the global economy is changing in the early part of the 21st century.”--Simon Rosenberg, chairman, New Democrat Network

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Robert J. Shapiro

  • ROBERT J. SHAPIRO is co-founder and chairman of Sonecon, LLC, a private firm that advises U.S. and foreign businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations. He served as Under Secretary of Commerce from 1998 to 2001.  He also was the co-founder and Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute, Bill Clinton’s principal economic advisor in the 1991-1992 campaign, a senior economic advisor to Al Gore and John Kerry in their campaigns, Legislative Director for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Assoc. Editor of U.S. News & World Report, and economics columnist for Slate magazine. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and lives in Washington, D.C.

  • Robert J. Shapiro


Robert J. Shapiro

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Available Formats and Book Details


How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work

Robert J. Shapiro



St. Martin's Press