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The world's fertility rate has fallen to about 2.4, and in the next few years may reach replacement levels (2.1) outside of Sub-Saharan Africa (where it's still 4-5, though falling quickly). Even some of the most conservative of wealthy societies, like American Mormons or Gulf-monarchy Arabs or the traditional (but not Orthodox) section of Israeli Jews, are approaching or have already reached replacement levels. Many countries, whether high-income or medium-income, now have fertility rates close to 1. And apart from Israel, where the fertility rate is 3 (mainly due to Arab-Israeli and especially Orthodox Jewish populations), no high-income country has a fertility rate above about 2.

My question is, if we imagine there is a country - or a whole world of countries - that is far wealthier than any country that currently exists, in which adults have huge amounts of free time, money, large homes, incredible access to childcare, advanced medical science related to fertility, and the expectation of a long and mostly healthy lifespan, what might become the fertility rate of such a place? And what would the implications of this be - Malthusian?

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    $\begingroup$ This is hugely a social values question and as you may have noticed in your statistics influcned by culture and religion. You may be presuming wealthy people even WANT children when that might represent some of the population, a lot don't. China has changed the one-child policy to two-child policy and realize their urban class don't even want 2 children and they are struggling to promote more kids. If your future world setting has replacement population as a goal, it'll need government incentives, likely the kind that doesn't have real life data then it becomes whatever you the author say is. $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 3 at 19:03
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    $\begingroup$ "Huge amounts of free time, money, large homes, incredible access to childcare, advanced medical science related to fertility, and the expectation of a long and mostly healthy lifespan": So, a country like Sweden or Danemark. Fertility rate around 1.7. (Which is actually high for the E.U.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 3 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ Conventionally, such idyllic conditions lead to high immigration pressure, so while the fertility rate is low, the overall population can grow. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jan 3 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @JshupacFuture-Economics define uber-rich. If everyone is equally rich, they are equally poor, unless there exists another nation being exploited. Costs of goods and services will skyrocket according to everyone ability to pay to acquire the same resources resulting in inflation unless they're exploiting labor not unlike Ancient Rome. $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 3 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ @JshupacFuture-Economics That is a bit different; Star Trek's plot doesn't rely on building upon their social-economics model, and doesn't too deeply if at all rely on facts derived from that model. In your case, you're specifically handwave a fundamental aspect of your society and derive facts from it. This becomes unanswerable: the social political and economic implications of such a society doesn't exist whether in theory or in fact, and you have already received the best analogs you may try to reference for your world. Anything derived from handwaved facts is whatever you want it to be. $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 4 at 0:34

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The overwhelming evidence we have from around our world is that when women get access to better education, careers and health care, their fertility rates drop dramatically. In the US, for instance, the fertility rate is 4.1 for first-generation immigrants but 1.8 for the rest of the population. Simply put, when women grow up with other choices, the vast majority choose not to have many (or any) kids.

So, in your world, unless you have some significant factor to counteract this (e.g. a misogynist religion) or a high level of immigration (from where?), expect your advanced society to quickly collapse and be replaced with a more primitive one having a much higher fertility rate.

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  • $\begingroup$ Downvoters: please explain how the answer could be improved. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jan 6 at 16:07
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So far as history has shown increasing income leads to decreasing birth rates. So far population have continue to decrease but it is possible that once incoming reach a certain level they population will even out. Or not it hard to see.

Also consider your population tec level and life expectancy. If the technology is high enough it is they can make there own population.

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The more money a woman makes, the more likely it is that she is gonna be picky about the partner she chooses to mate and have children with. 300 years ago it was normal for women to marry literally the first guy that they had a chance with, and have children as soon as possible to have a sustainance.

as the culture of Madames and women's rights developed and women entered the business side of the world, birth rates have plumbed to an all time record low. if you want feritility levels to raise, make men richer than women, if you want fertility to go down then make women richer or as rich as men.

Also another factor to take into consideration is competition, 75% of suicide victims are men, because the competition in the romance market as well as the business and education market is too high, it is noramal for mammals to be naturally lazy and choose death instead of wasting energy competiting in a game with low success rates.

suicide rates are very important to the overall mood of the country and the fertility rate.

In japan they have hikikomoris, in america they have basement dwellers and in china they have low layers. Those are men who gave up on reproduction and will never have children, in those countries, percentage of male virginity is raising every year, as well as male infedility cause all the women will have a smaller pool of men to choose from and will have to share or fight for the same men. like

Other common things in dying societies are:

-Women hating men and priding in not needing one and the fact that men are useless and holding the belief that women are opressed by society

-Men hating women and priding in not needing one and the fact that women are useless and holding the belief that men are opressed by society

-Prostitution at an all times high

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    $\begingroup$ "300 years ago it was normal for women to marry literally the first guy that they had a chance with": where was that? Certainly not anywhere in Europe west of Russia. (And I'm saying west of Russia only because I know very little about the Russian society around 1700.) "As the culture of Madames and women's rights developed and women entered the business side of the world, birth rates have plumbed to an all time record low": India has a record low fertility rate of 2.0; whether it also has a culture of Madames and women's rights depends on your point of view. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 3 at 20:29
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An exponential series grows in the limit at the speed of its fastest growing component.

What does that have to do with birthrates? Well, imagine a world where there is a wide distribution of birth rates, from 0 to say 10 per woman.

After the first generation, those who have 0 children vanish, while those who have 10 children have expanded their % of the population 10-fold. Now, assuming there is some degree of inheritance (cultural/religious or biological) of the propensity towards large families (and there surely is), a fraction of the 10 children will also have large, perhaps 10 children families of their own. Assuming (absurdly) that everything else is stable, the 10-child families will come to dominate, within a number of generations dictated by their prevalence within the initial population. Even if some of their children have lower fertility, the overwhelming majority of humans born in the n-th generation will come from 10-child families.

Note that the number 10 is picked just for illustration purposes. 5 children/woman would do the same, just take longer to do so. The only real physical limitations assuming a post-scarcity utopia are the gestational period and the health effects of spacing pregnancies too closely, and the availability of childcare. And you can easily see that the number could be a lot higher if we allow for artificial wombs, and could be orders of magnitude higher if progress in artificial general intelligence allows us to have artificial childcare.

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Not that sanity is my specialty, but the only sane and non-destructive reasons I can think of for this is to either recover from a massive population loss (the Gerbil Apocalypse of 2134 wipes out anywhere between 21% to 93% of Earth's humans in 98% of all sampled parallel timelines) or to colonize a new world.

Currently in this timeline, the nation of Niger has a fertility rate just under 7. This is the current record and is about where the USA was in 1800. Let's use that as our base point and see where we can push it. For a simple start, I'm mostly focusing on plain vanilla traditional reproductive methods for plain vanilla couples, but other options will also be considered.

The original question was for people with plenty of money, but as many have pointed out, wealth alone is a very effective fertility suppressant. Instead, our optimal population explosion society needs to be post scarcity. Good tasting healthy food leads to better pregnancy outcomes. Having to work for food is a distraction. Good shelter also needs to be readily and easily available to keep parents and children safe and warm. So, we're going to need automated food production as well as either automated housing construction or super easy DIY house and expansion room kits.

This alone won't make the average happy couple have 7 children. We need to add servants. Since we're in a post scarcity attempt at utopia, robotic servants are the logical choice. Forms may vary, but certain functions are critical. We need doc bots to make sure all goes as well as possible with pregnancies. We need nanny bots to take care of the upcoming tidal wave of children. We need house cleaning bots to pick up after all these kids. We'll need teacher bots to tame, I mean educate all these children. We'll need psychiatrist bots (probably doubling as bartender bots) to help the parents to not completely lose it too.

All of the above makes having a lot of children less of a burden, but we still need more motivation. Our parents must be educated (brainwashed) to understand that increasing the population is an important duty for all members of this society. Their children need to also be taught this attitude. The success of this psychological conditioning is critical. Even a post scarcity society has social status and other rewards. Those who produce more children are rewarded. Those who fail (at least by choice) will be stigmatized.

I think this would be enough to get fertility to 7.

To go higher:

Aim for multiple births. Fertility drugs is one choice. Implanting 3 or 4 embryos for every IVF attempt should get increase the odds too.

With some surgery a hormone therapy, it may be possible to emplant embryos in males. Large scale studies would be needed to look for possible side effects in children gestated this way. Possible effects on a male body from one or many pregnancies are currently unknown.

Nursing babies may be a wonderful thing, but does temporarily reduce the mothers chances of conceiving another child. If nursing is permitted, limit it to 3 months at most.

Healthy women in developed countries remain fertile longer than those in the past or in less developed countries. Anything that can be done to add a few more fertile years adds more potential for racking up the baby count.

Human choice would still be involved to some degree, but I belive under these conditions, average fertility could easily exceed 10 babies per couple.

If this population boom is a planned event and all other priorities are rescinded, shift the male/female ratio (can be pushed a little by sperm separation techniques, can be pushed as far as you want via selecting which embryos to implant for IVF). If we only have an average of 4 babies per woman, we can jump from 10 adults producing 35 total babies (7 per couple) to 63 total babies by replacing 4 of the 5 males with females. If we can completely dump males, the total would be 70 babies.

But there is one more option tha ends all limits. With a reasonable starting number of embryos (or eggs and sperm), some sort of safe and effective artificial wombs would free women in a situation like this from the unenviable role of baby factories. In this scenario, the potential limiting factors would be the number of artificial wombs, the production of factories for food, housing, and servant robots, and just how many dozen (hundred? thousand?!?) children running around per adult human would be acceptable.

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