Humans of the past, I have some very bad news. In the year 2062, nuclear war broke out and destroyed much of the Earth. But luckily, in America, we were ready. We knew war was inevitable, so we built a great underground bunker, and saved all the important people of the country (politicians, military officials, and scientific minds) and hid in our safety bunker for more then 100 years.

Today, we have emerged, and we are now worried. In the time since we sealed ourselves underground, numerous larger factions have arisen, most notably the UCR, a government down south with more than 300,000 people! Our population is a smattering of 5,000 people, and we have decided that we need to increase our population if we plan to be a major player in this new world. Our question is, how can we efficiently increase our population?

Additional Things to Add

  • We possess technology similar to yours, although genetic engineering tech is advanced.

  • We have an ally near us, called the SC, that has a population about 3x bigger then us, and is willing to help us.

  • We want to increase our population in about a timeframe of ~20 years.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ What are you asking that can't simply be answered by 'have more children'? $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jul 14, 2019 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ I edited your post for punctuation and a few grammar bits. If I got anything wrong, please change it. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jul 14, 2019 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed: What I’m asking is how to do it QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Jul 14, 2019 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ I answered it because, what the heck. But this is probably a duplicate. I'm sure someone will find it.... $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Jul 14, 2019 at 18:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Highly related: What is a reasonable population growth for 900 years? though not necessarily a duplicate (it does give the math for why you cannot outpace your enemy's population). $\endgroup$
    – LinkBerest
    Jul 14, 2019 at 22:26

6 Answers 6


To have more children quicker, with a modern level of technology plus a bit, use IVF and/or hormones to increase the incidence of births of multiples. Twins and triplets (anything more is possible but risky).

Use social pressure or legal means to "encourage" all women with childbearing potential to get pregnant. Hopefully this future is unlike our present where there is an unnaturally high percentage of men in politics, science, and the military, especially at higher levels. Your population is probably more gender-balanced after 100 years in the bunker, but fewer female residents in the beginning decreases your population growth when you were in hiding. If you included families of prominent people, this may not be a factor.

Focus your resources on reproductive technology, prenatal care, and safe birthing of multiples. Then on childcare and education. Source excellent nutrition and holistic medical care to ensure that new moms are up for the challenge of getting pregnant again every year or two, starting young and ending late, if possible.


Do what the Romans did

Early mythical Rome was a small town, with great ambitions and a very big problem: its population consisted only of (young and rebellious) men. Only men means no children and no children means no future.

So they decided to get women.

The cunning Romans announced in the neighbouring Sabine city of Cures (called Quires in Latin) that they will put up a splendiferous festival in the honor of Equestrian Neptune (yes, Neptune was a horse-related deity before he became king of the sea), and all the people of Cures are invited free of charge. So the people of Cures came with their daughters: and at a predetermined signal, each Roman got hold of a Sabine virgin, and then they chased off the men.

The abduction of the Sabine wome, by Pietro da Cortona

Instant population doubling. Painting by Pietro da Cortona, 17th century.

Romulus, the king of the Romans, lead the negotiations between the Romans and their abducted brides-to-be. He offered them free choice and promised civic and property rights. According to Livy, Romulus spoke to each of the abducted women in person, convincing them to be joined in lawful wedlock, in exchange for the women obtaining property and commercial rigths (which was quite unusual at the time).

While the Romans settled in their newly found connubial bliss, the relatives of the former abductees and current respected wives gathered an army and marched on Rome. I am skipping over fascinating but not directly relevant details; eventually the battle was joined, but the women intervened and placed themselves between the two armies, explaining that since they were now the wives of the Romans any war was a sacrilege, as the Romans were now related by marriage with the Sabines of Cures.

The intervention of the Sabine women, by Jacques-Louis David

Renewed population doubling. Painting by Jacques-Louis David, 18th century.

Seeing the wisdom of their daughters, the Sabines of Cures decided to move to Rome. Their king Titus Tatius became co-ruler of Rome alongside Romulus, and the two peoples merged.

And so did Rome expand its population more than fivefold (1 Roman + 1 Sabine wife + 1 Sabine-Roman child + 2 Sabine parents + whatever siblings the woman had) in one short year.


The abduction of the Sabine women is a foundational myth of Rome. (The traditional translation is "rape of the Sabines", but nowadays the word "rape" means something else entirely... I wonder what 21st century high school pupils think of Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock.) The myth neatly ties together and explains several striking strands of Roman exceptionalism:

  • The unusually high status of women in Rome compared to other ancient societies.

    The Romans needed wives, not unwilling prisoners, so they made a deal with the abducted women: if they agreed to marry their captors, they will receive civil and commercial rights, something unheard of in those times.

  • The Roman law that marriage needs the freely given consent of both parties.

    Since the marriages were the result of negotiations, the rule remained that women could not be married against their will.

  • The uniquely Roman distinction between citizenship and ethnicity.

    To be an Athenian, or a Spartan, or a Corinthian, etc. one had to be born an Athenian, or a Spartan, or a Corinthian etc. But one did not have to be born a Roman: one could become a Roman. The myth explains that the Romans were a mixed people from the very beginning.

  • The use of two different names for the people of Rome: Romani (used in relation to public business) and Quirites (used in relation to private business).


Your perceived enemy has a population of 300,000

Your total population is a miserable 5000 and your allies have only 15,000. The total population your side has is just 20,000.

You cannot out pace their growth.

More to the point this enemy could consume your entire country with just 60,000 people using a classic 3 to 1 ratio of military superiority and still have resources to spare. So you cannot take even the slightest military action against them, including raiding parties or trying to expand your territory.

Note that this other larger faction would already have resources to support their population and you would need to gain resources to support any growth. That means land, food, possibly resources like metals, ores, fuel. It's all uphill for you and your allies, but your "enemies" already have sufficient resources to sustain them through anything you can do, retaliate for anything you do and subvert you.

we built a great underground Bunker, and saved all the important people of the country (politicians, military officials, and scientific minds) and hid in our safety bunker for more then 100 years

What a pity they're all dead (and they can't have been that great or clever if they couldn't prevent the war in the first place).

The next generation won't necessarily be good at anything. What exactly do a bunch of politicians and military leaders teach their population of 5000 (and did you include enough young people to produce new generations ?). Personally I'd shoot every politician trying to enter the bunker as they're a waste of space, and you need a bunch of military leaders to lead what army ? With a population of 5000 people there can't be more than 2000 adults capable of waging war or even defense. And these would be the same military leader who helped destroy the world ? These morons provide what useful skills ? You can learn military and political tactics and strategy from a book, and good teachers would be of more practical benefit that a bunch of idiots who caused the problem in the first place.

We want to increase our population in about a timeframe of ~20 years.

Optimistically you have a 4 to 1 ratio of women to men, because men are useless and can't get pregnant. It takes about 18 years to "grow" an adult that's useful at anything, and so to get a bunch of 17 year old or better adults in twenty years would give you only three years (about 36 months) of your initial "crop" of children.

You start with maybe 4000 women and we'll (unrealistically) assume they're all of child bearing age. Let's say they can produce on average 2 children every nine months (unrealistic). Let's also (unrealistically) assume you can support these extra children's development (food, housing, medical, training, etc.).

That's still only about 32,000 poor idiots for the front lines in your insane quest for power.

Your large "enemy", doing nothing, can probably produce a standing army of 60,000 and afford to loose many of them - you can't afford casualties. You still loose (and they have resources).

But more realistic numbers would limit you to a growth of more like 7000, allowing for the need to support the new children (largely unproductive) in a closed environment with limited (probably capped) resources. And you're definitely going to loose then.

numerous larger factions have arisen, most notably the UCR, a government down south with more than 300,000 people!

So even if you start attacking this much larger faction successfully there can be more large factions that will immediately see you as a threat and ally themselves to crush your trouble-making asses for your arrogance. Get the picture ?

You can't win.

In this world you have one option for success : diplomacy and economics.

Forget competing with the larger factions and think allying with them to grow within their economic and political sphere.

If a nuclear war that practically wipes out the entire population doesn't teach you the insanity of competing and viewing neighbors as enemies then you won't survive long.

Likewise your neighbors would be on the look out for the slightest sign of hostility (or arrogant flag-waving self-importance) from you and react very quickly to put you in your place.

It's peace or death. Pick one.

  • $\begingroup$ Mhmmmm! What if I give them superior technology and weapons to even out the battlefield. And also lower UCR’s po by 100,000 $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Jul 14, 2019 at 21:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Put it this way : I arm you with a sub-machine gun and your 20 opponents have only knifes. They'll figure out a way to get close enough to rush you without significant casualties and you'll be dead (and they'll have your machine gun). Also note that they can wait : their 100,000 people and resources can catch up on your technology level, and your 5,000 (or even 20,000) can't develop tech as fast and has more limited resources. And when their tech is "good enough" to beat yours, they'll not only be able but keen to attack you for your side's arrogance. It's friends or nothing, IMO. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2019 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ Aww, but I was planning on making them American future evil space nazis $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Jul 14, 2019 at 23:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A "nation" with only a population of only 5000 cannot possibly produce a space capable industry and economy in anything like 20 years - maybe more like 200+ years (if they can grow very, very, very fast, which is unlikely). But by that time, again, the "neighbors" would be way ahead of them. $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2019 at 0:16

Recruit women

Make an open offer to women to join your colony (or whatever you want to call it). Promise access to your advanced healthcare. The only requirement to join is that they have to add X children to the community. There is likely to be some sweet spot for X. If it's too high, women won't want to join. If it's too low, they don't have enough children to increase your population quickly.

I'm assuming that the other communities have regressed technologically during the apocalypse. So they have inferior, third world level healthcare. Meanwhile, your healthcare should be at least the match of modern first world care.

Start a school

You're more advanced than neighboring places. Start a school to help them advance. Some of the graduates will stay with you.

Emphasize ethics in the first year or so. Send people who fail home without teaching them science or technology. So those you do teach will be interested in ethics and not conquest. That both makes them more likely to stay and more likely to be peaceful if they return home.

Encourage the politically powerful to send their children. Encourage your young people to mingle with their young people. Marriages happen, binding other countries to you. Encourage them to stay with your for the higher technology, particularly better healthcare.


Hire outsiders to do work for you. Again, give them the benefits of your technology and citizenship. In the next generation, your population will be larger.

If you can generate wealth quickly enough, you can even hire mercenaries. That will make your armies bigger immediately and their families will become the next generation.

Merge with the SC

An easy way to increase in size is simply to merge with your ally. That takes you from 5000 to 20,000. If you do nothing but introduce them to modern healthcare (without birth control), they should start having large families almost immediately.


Give them an advantege

What your colony needs is some advantage that helps them stay safe from your much bigger enemy - if you posses something that aids your colony (advanced medical equipment, hydroponics, valuables), you are much more likely to be raided.

What you need is the exact oposite, something that doesn't give your colony much aid in your quest of population, but what is the source of all that went bad last time: a nuclear missile.

Even a much larger colony will be unable to match the force of a nuclear warhead that is kept ready at all times to simply blow their city out of the map. Their army will be fully aware that a war against you will mean majority of their population dying.

Now that we have "peace", let's make those population numbers

Your main enemy will now be the resources - multiplying the population means multiplying the food, water, medicine, housing etc. needed. That's where your scientists come in - in the long years underground, they had a lot of time to genetically engineer several different plants, which will grow on the nuclear wasteland while still being edible and are, additionally, pretty damn tasty. Happy with their results, they even made a whole warehouse full of seeds and saplings.

Getting water shouldn't be that big of a problem - building the bunker near a deep underground water source with the necessary facilities to get it in the future seems like a reasonable decision before a nuclear war.

Now that you have the means of getting food and water, it's time to get the rest - from wood to advanced equipment, and for those you have your tasty plants. As the trading system is most likely to be goods exchange based, you now have a something very valuable on the market - food source that grows well on wasteland and is tasty.

And since your colony now has food, water and a nuclear trump card it's ready to... welcome the people migrating from different factions. Over the course of the proposed 20 years, your colony has became the safest place in the wasteland, with plenty of food and water for everyone. It's not a place where people simply live. It's a place where every survivor on the planet wants to live.

And 10 years after you have finally won the population race, a rumor has spread that you never had any nuke and the missile is just an empty shell without a warhead...


Reproducing naturally is not an option with those numbers.

But all is not lost, you have a colony of the worlds sharpest minds.

The answer you're looking for is,

Artificial Wombs

Existing technology is actually not that far from this type of technology, which requires no genetic engineering. You're simply creating a hospitable environment for an embryo, which has been done with several animal species to date.

If your 5,000 minds could work together to create this technology, you'd stand a chance.

Assuming you begin each embryo the old-fashioned way...you could then transplant it into an artificial womb. A woman's period lasts roughly 1 month. If she were to fall pregnant each month (unlikely) you could theoretically have 12 embryos a year.

With a combined size of 20,000 in your allied population, let's say 1/2 are women, and 1/2 of that are women of child-bearing age. With IVF, we'll use those woman can produce 12 viable embryos a year.

The math works out nicely, in FIVE years you'll have 300,000 babies.

Feeding and housing them, however, remains unsolved...

  • $\begingroup$ why do you think there are any especially sharp minds in the bunker? if there were any in he first place (improbable considering the implied selection process), they died a long time ago. $\endgroup$
    – ths
    Jul 15, 2019 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ths You don't even need 5000 sharp minds - a single scientist reaching an "Eureka!" moment will be enough. And everything that is documented can be worked on by future generations - that's the beauty of science. $\endgroup$
    – Rachey
    Jul 16, 2019 at 12:10

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