Skip navigation
Hardcover | Out of Print | 289 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 7 illus. | January 2002 | ISBN: 9780262032940
Paperback | $4.75 Short | £4.95 | 289 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 7 illus. | February 2003 | ISBN: 9780262532044
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

What the Future Holds

Insights from Social Science


Predicting the future is notoriously difficult. But systematic analysis leads to clearer understanding and wiser decisions. Thinking about the future also makes social scientists focus their research into the past and present more fruitfully, with more attention to key predictors of change.

This book considers how we might think intelligently about the future. Taking different methodological approaches, well-known specialists forecast likely future developments and trends in human life. The questions they address include: How many humans will there be? Will there be enough energy? How will climate change affect our lives? What patterns of work will exist? How will government work at the local, national, and world level? Will inflation remain under control? Why have past forecasts been so bad? The book concludes with a discussion of the intellectual and historical context of futurology and a look at the accuracy of predictions that were made for the year 2000. Jed.

About the Editors

Richard N. Cooper is Maurits C. Boas Professor of International Economics at Harvard University.

Richard Layard is Director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.


“[T]here are valuable lessons here.”—New Scientist
“...This book serves a useful purpose by stimulating human responses to avoid possible disasters.”—Foreign Affairs


Predicting the future is impossible. Surprise is inevitable, yet we cannot plan our lives without predictions. This book provides an essential understanding of both the limits and the disciplines that we need to face the future more effectively.
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“This book demands close reading. The editors have selected important, insightful essays.”
Thomas C. Schelling, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland