The Next Age of Uncertainty: How the World Can Adapt to a Riskier Future by Stephen Poloz, read by Raafia Shahid
The Next Age of Uncertainty shines a light on five key public policy challenges facing Canada today, which are described as the five “tectonic forces”: population aging, technological progress, rising inequality, growing debt, and climate change. Stephen Poloz dives deep into each of these critical social issues, their dynamic interactions, and their implications for the future. The book highlights how the forces can interact to produce unexpected consequences, which he calls “black swan outcomes” – for example, how population growth and climate change create pressure on the world water supply. A master at simplifying complex relationships, Poloz artfully uses nuance when describing interrelations between processes like technological progress and trade liberalization.
Intertwined with personal anecdotes, as well as historical examples, The Next Age of Uncertainty should win the Donner Prize because it not only includes sound policy recommendations, but is very readable. Poloz draws on historical examples like the Victorian depression, as well as more recent events like the 2008 crash and the COVID-19 pandemic, to highlight different policy levers. He is adept at explaining complex economic concepts in simplistic, laymen terms, which makes complex ideas accessible for the non-technical reader. The book is a technical triumph, using statistical and economic theory to delve into social issues in an effort to prepare policy analysts for an uncertain future.
Raafia Shahid is a Master of Public Policy student at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She is currently interning at the Ontario Public Service (OPS) Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and has an interest in foreign policy.