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In the setting, the available living area is relatively sparse and valuable, but the industrial revolution is booming, and the associated rapid population growth posing real overpopulation and resource stretching issues.

I had an idea that maybe this society as one of the forms of trying to combat this would not only allow but even encourage same-sex relationships and marriages since they would occupy people in healthy relationships without those relationships producing children, unless the couple decides to adopt (another form of solving issues of resources and living space... is basically "colonialism").

Leaving aside the details of people's reaction to these ideas (assuming that at the very least they don't find them immoral or wrong), would such a thing be able to affect the birthrates of the country, and to what extent?

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    $\begingroup$ One of the fundamental arguments behind the effort to secure same-sex marital rights in the U.S. was the empirical evidence that people are wired for the attraction - that it's as much a biological imperative as heterosexual attraction. So, while I believe it's plausible that a forced homosexual relationship could supplant the heterosexual drive for special reproduction, it would probably be no more valuable than masturbation. TL;DR, probably not, unless you forcefully keep men and women apart. (War is probably more efficient... or engineering a pandemic, not to start an argument....) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with @JBH also worth mentioning that 1) Joe Haldeman used this change to society in the classic The Forever War - worth reading; and 2) an empirical data point suggesting it probably won't work is if you look at post-one-child China, where one of the unintended consequences is a surplus of males. This has resulted in cross-border kidnapping of women in some areas rather than a mass change in sexual orientation. People are wired the way they're wired. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2021 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ History shows that the most effective way to limit population growth is merely for women to not be subjugated to men. Women who have the rights, power, and wealth to not be dependent tend to have much smaller families. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ I also agree with @JBH, since at the end of the war between Paraguay and Brazil the country was left in a state in which women composed around 75% of the population above 30 years old, with some even affirming the country had lost around 90% of the male population (regardless of whether these are truth, it is undeniable that the Paraguayans were massacred by allied troops [not the ww2 ones] ). Want to control the population? Exterminate the men and legally forbid the formation of harems so we don't have one man "helping" multiple women to have babies . $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2021 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ @ProjectApex Paraguay had, therefore, extremely high illegitimacy rates. Forbidding polygamy doesn't prevent it, it only makes it extralegal. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 4:21

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This would be a very ineffective population control method.

How many people are Gay?

11% of Americans have acknowledged same sex attraction. That doesn't make them Homosexual, but it means they are 1 or more on the Kinsey scale.1.7% and 1.8% of Americans are Homosexual and Bisexual respectively. That means that 3.5% of people are Homosexual, and 7.5% are not Gay but have had some same sex attraction.

Come to the Gay side, we have cookies

Despite what right wing media outlets might have you believe there is no large scale gay propaganda (at least telling people to become Gay, instead of just tolerance) in the media. To start, you would have to convince 90% of the 1.8% of the population that are Bisexuals to be Homosexual, since ~90% bisexuals in relationships enter heterosexual relationships. this effort would reward you with 1.6% of the population being turned gay. You would then theoretically convince all the people who are in the 7.5% group (people who have had some same sex attraction but are not Homosexual or Bisexual) to become Gay. This incredible effort result in a total of 9.3% of the population being Gay who were straight before.

Gay babies

Next, the actual impact of becoming Gay, that thing we worked so hard for. Well, according to Swedish numbers, while Gay people have nearly no children, Lesbians only have about half as many children. This number might stabilize, but lets assume that this will stay this way. So this would effectively only cut down on the amount of children that the new Gay population produces by a factor of 4. This means your plan would cut down on the number of people having children effectively by 7.0%.

It's okay to be (not) Gay

Finally you try to convince straight people to be Gay, and you have a problem. Best we can tell it isn't chemicals in the water, left wing TV, or feminism that makes people gay. We already converted all the people who have even acknowledged that they have had gay attraction, so now we are trying to convince people to be gay who have never even though about being gay. Furthermore, there are people out there who for one reason or another, being straight is part of their identity (The ladies man, the girl who is popular with the boys) pushing them is just going to make them more defensive of their straight personality.

So, we put out a massive media circus, broke up on going straight relationships with Bi people, and have got every single person who has ever had a Gay thought into a Homosexual relationship. What do we get?

7.0% reduction in birthrate

This is so low that most people wouldn't count it as a major contributor to the problem. The drop in fertility from 2014 to 2018 in America is greater than this. Video games and drinking less alcohol likely have a larger impact on sex and therefore birthrate. This also assumes that we succeeded in our plan by every possible metric. This is after we spent what could come out to Trillions to get this to occur.

What is actually effective?

Do what Japan does and put more of an emphasis on working, and pump up video games and media in the sparse free time people have. According to this graph a single year of extra education for all women would have the same effect on fertility as your Gay plan, and you get a more educated workforce. Other things you can do is give tax breaks to married couples with no children. Reduce climate action to increase the dread of bringing a child into a doomed world.

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    $\begingroup$ Haven't decided yet if I agree with your conclusion that encouraging gay relationships would result in a 7% birthrate reduction at most. However although 7% reduction might not be that big, it's far from insignificant. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2021 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ 7% if literally everyone who could possibly be convinced by any means to become gay becomes gay. 7% is also lower than the drop in birth rate from 2014 to 2018 in America. Unless you class the birthrate drop in America pre-Covid as disastrous, this likely would not even be noticed by most people. $\endgroup$
    – user64888
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ Wery thorough answer, thank you. Though what of the evidence you laid out can be accessible to a 19th-century technology and science I'm unsure (For them to make a weighted judgement in favour or against it), at least doylistically the idea won't be rational or successful. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2021 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ Your link to Swedish numbers shows nothing of the sort, it is just a link to US general fertility rate. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for “come to the gay side, we have cookies.” Made me laugh $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2021 at 13:51
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No

You've clarified that nobody is being forced in this scenario. That leads to (if this "encouragement" were 100% successful in all cases) a situation where all children are considered, planned, and wanted.

However, sperm donation exists today. Surrogacy and adoption, likewise.

This means that anyone who wishes to raise children can and will - it'll marginally increase the difficulty for male parents who wish to raise children, but not substantially enough to curb population growth. The only births you'll prevent are those which are accidental. (And not even all of those, as prenatal abortion technologies also exist today. NB: I've carefully avoided speculating about the use-rates of that technology.)

What you will risk is popular-sire syndrome, and your population losing genetic diversity. And cultural divides, as male and female children are likely to become increasingly separated. (Your tale might explore the difficulties of raising an opposite-gender child.)

(This is based on certain assumptions about what proportion of current births are deliberate.)

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In short no even if you convinced 50 percent of society to only have sex with the same sex. The straight couples could still have as many kids as they want. If the have 3 or more then you're still gaining population.

In addition, just because someone's attracted to the same sex does not mean they don't want kids, and it's possible that they might pursue having children via surrogacy which would also ruin your population control plans.

Also it would seem much more effective if you would instead encourage all couples not to have kids or only have one or two.

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  • $\begingroup$ "not to have kids or only have one or two." - number has to be based on statistics of survivial rates, which guarantees replacement of population. Or all technologidal benefits may go in drain if there is not enough people to keep them working $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 11:01
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Yes.

Because you have removed the men, for reasons actual or invented. Women make better workers than men and this can be your primary motivator - you want women for the factories and the men eat too much and cause too much trouble and father too many babies which takes the women away from the factories. Perhaps you need men for the war. Or they have all been taken away after the rebellion. Your societal engineers have a background in animal husbandry and bring those ideas to their human project.

Removing the men makes for excellent population control. Encouragement of same sex relationships among your female workforce is just one of the many pieces your societal engineers have implemented to sustain a happy, healthy workforce. There is much, much precedent for groups of women sustaining their societies while men drift through, contributing some, or none, or are absent for months at a time doing what they do. The relationships these women have with one another are human relationships of all kinds.

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