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One of the species in my world is very asexual. In this species, males and females are rarely if ever attracted to other individuals. It is something that developed through the past few decades and there doesn't seem to be any way to correct this problem.

It seems like the individuals of this species are interested into glory, honor, and virtues, but have no interest in sexual socialization. Polls suggest that a good chunk of the species might even be disgusted by the naked body of their same species, they reproduce with the lights turned off and as quick as possible to get it over with, and even that type of activity is declining.

The females of this species consider 99% of the males to be unattractive and 80% to be horrendously ugly, whilst males have no sexual interest in females at all.

The government doesn't want to face extinction, so what can they do to fix the problem other than enslaving a breeding caste?

More details about the creature:

  • Mammals
  • Sexually dimorphic
  • 14 months of pregnancy
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    $\begingroup$ It might help to know how the problem arose, what the cause is in order to fix it. Hormone levels, severe psychological disturbance, anosmia preventing normal arousal? All are treatable/able to be mitigated to some extent. Can you clarify a bit? $\endgroup$ Jan 8 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ "It is something that developed through the past few decades" suggests a cultural or environmental cause. Both causes, in turn, suggest that asexuality will not be evenly distributed; so some folks will be happily reproduce. You have phrased the question so that it seems only the fetish wierdos will be happy to reproduce...but that's really all you need. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jan 9 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ Question the first: Does this species feel pleasure/gratification from the sexual act? Question the second: How did this occur? Because it is not a natural state of being. Not wanting to reproduce is not viable and the ones who do want to reproduce will quickly out number the others, who will die out. $\endgroup$ Jan 9 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ You might be interested in the Cycle of Robots, from Asimov. This topic is discussed in the third book if I am not mistaken. (The first one with Baley, the detective) $\endgroup$ Jan 10 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ As Iteration mentioned, Isaac Asimov did this one already in his Foundation series. The planet in question was Solaria, it was originally settled by humans who due to extreme dependence on robots, had come to so hate contact with each other that they had genetically modified themselves to be hermaphrodites. The Baley stories (caves of steel) only touched on this planet in it's infancy, though. Ultimately Solaria proved to be of critical importance, though. As for natural insemination of purchased semen, that is often done due to low success rates of the "turkey baster" method. $\endgroup$ Jan 11 at 4:20

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There is no need to fear extinction. This is a self-correcting problem. This is what the evolution is all about.

Those who have genes which make them less likely to procreate are less likely to do so. The genes will gradually disappear from the gene pool.

Those who have genes which make it more likely to procreate, for what ever reason, well, they are more likely to procreate. Next generation will have more of these genes, and procreate more.

The females of this species consider 99% of the males to be unattractive and 80% to be horrendously ugly, whilst males have no sexual interest in females at all.

So, that 1% of attractive males will be pursued by the females, and next generation is going to have 50% attractive males.

The whole thing is an extinction problem only if there is competition from a competing species, who will increase in number at the expense of this species with the reproductive issues. This is how extinctions normally happen in nature outside mass extinction events: some other species is just better at reproducing, for whatever reason, so generation by generation conquers more living space / resources. But if this is the sole technological species on the planet, no other species can compete with them (unless it's a horror setting of some kind with an unnatural/alien enemy).


For a cultural species, it's more of an economic problem, as there are many old people who'd like to retire, but can't because there aren't enough young people to do productive work. This also is not an extinction problem, and also is ultimately self-correcting: older people keep working to avoid poverty/starvation, or there is a rebellion of the working class against those who aren't working but expect to live in luxury if there is too great an imbalance.


As to what can be done with the immediate problem: Well, first step is to find out what the problem actually is.

Until the actual problem can be fought, there are a few remedies:

  • direct economical incentives to produce offspring
  • prestige for having a lot of offspring
  • society providing for offspring (free health care, education etc)
  • active removal of any taboos or other cultural limitations related to reproduction, such as expecting a stable monogamous relationship
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If they find repulsive the act of the intercourse but not the pregnancy, they can massively use in vitro fecundation or artificial insemination, which doesn't need the physical act of mating to produce a viable embryo.

Both males and female would be required to provide the gametes without any interaction with the other sex and, for the females, to host the embryo until delivery.

They can make it a civic duty for each citizen to give at least 2 children to the country when coming of age, not differently from what was or is enforced with mandatory military service in some countries.

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    $\begingroup$ The interesting side effect is that the nation can grow/shrink its population size at will. $\endgroup$ Jan 8 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep, 1 success out of 5 is still better than 0 like in the OP's scenario. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 9 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ IVF is not needed, you just need "artificial insemination" as is practised widely in agriculture. Basically a semen sample and a turkey baster. Much cheaper, less intrusive, and probably more reliable too. $\endgroup$ Jan 9 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep Does it really cost 20K worth of time and materials or is that just what is typically charged? And if the materials (which were formerly low volume specialty medical supplies) were manufactured in bulk wouldn't that bring down the cost? Could the technology improve to the point where it becomes an at-home kit? $\endgroup$
    – user4574
    Jan 9 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ @NepeneNep $20k/per citizen per lifetime (measured from the potential fetus) is chump change in the grand scheme of things when talking about fiscal budgets. Simply considering education, healthcare, social housing, entertainment, food, etc... Granted, some hyper capitalistic governments might be able to convince their citizens that these are bad things, but even they have free education upto 18... $\endgroup$
    – Aron
    Jan 10 at 7:15
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Connect political power to having a family

In our world politicians need to have a family with a few kids to get anywhere. Have the government connect positions of any real power with having a family.

Likewise, any businesses that work with the government will get preference if they have a family. This can be seen as a way to show off your honour and tradition, in that you can prepare a group of people to carry on the family business.

Have lots of support for childcare and pregnancy

Giving birth already takes a while. Make sure that childcare is well funded and that help for giving birth is common.

Make sure that females who give birth get advantages in their career from doing so. You don't want them to put off giving birth to extend their careers. Make it so that women who have more children can get more power.

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Two options come to mind.

  1. You may be overthinking this. Most of us do things we don't like to. It sounds like having sex is a chore that needs to be done a few times every 14 months at most for members of this species in their reproducing years. Over the course of their lives it's presumably much less. People in our world get prostate exams and mammograms which are also unpleasant in an invasive way. Basic bodily functions can also be gross. Point being, people deal. Your species would probably have a lot of jokes surrounding sex. Humor seems to pop up as a defense mechanism around grossness and discomfort. You could make this topic a cultural center-piece with even more of this species' crude humor involving sex than ours does.

  2. Your species is into honor, valor, and so forth. There's not much more important to the betterment of a species than reproduction. Maybe having children is a status symbol -- the more you have, the more you've proven your devotion to family, country, and so forth. Maybe parties are thrown for every pregnancy and children who reproduce get larger shares of the inheritance (maybe they are portioned out by the fraction of the grandchildren produced). There could be financial incentives or even certain job postings only available based on parenthood or number of children. There are a few ways you could do this, but just tie child-bearing to what these things do care about.

And, of course, there's no reason you couldn't do both of these things. They'd likely evolve side by side. You should also know that reproduction used to have major importance among aristocrats in Europe and likely elsewhere. There are certainly many historical examples of people for whom sex was either unwanted (perhaps they were asexual or homosexual), painful (perhaps for medical reasons), and so on. Some of them pulled through because political and financial arrangements depended on it. So, sex motivated by a sense of duty, financial benefits (another families wealth), office (you could marry into power over estates/provinces/etc.) are not at all outlandish.

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  • $\begingroup$ Some of the alien cultures in C.S. Friedman's In Conquest Born have a social pattern pretty similar to this in a lot of ways. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 at 18:46
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For most of history, having children was essential. Agrarian peoples needed hands to work the fields, monarchs needed heirs to take their throne, craftsmen needed people to pass on their trade, etc.

Obviously, none of these needs require having children, but it is very convenient for a number of reasons. Rather than having to bring someone into your work and having to pay them, a farmer doesn't have to pay the children. In the case of those in political power, a child can be much more easily influenced and trusted than an outsider.

All of this was furthered by distrust of people who are not friends or kin.

So in past centuries, outright refusing to have children in many cases was not a very good plan.

I focus on the aspect of having children here, rather than intimacy or love, because those ideas were not really important to many people prior to the last few centuries. Obviously, people did find love with each other, they weren't heartless or anything, but most people were marrying for matters of necessity.

The enjoyment of sexual relations also were secondary in many cases to having children, and in many cultures, certain things weren't even recognized regarding sex (such as female orgasms).

So for a whole society to so aggressively turn against any kind of relationship... that's a bit questionable. I can see strong taboos against romantic love in a certain culture, but such a hard stance against something so useful as having children would be rather odd.

Even today, where some may characterize this as happening, where a number of young people in the developed world are deciding to not have children, this is hardly out of an outright refusal to do so a lot of the time. Many prioritize work. Others would like to have children, but can't find the right person, others feel anxious about raising children in current economic conditions or with threats like climate change hanging over their heads.

All a number of reasons why people are choosing not to have children - and then you have people who get married and have children just because it's what they were raised to believe they should do, and have no really interest in it.

Then there are people who are similar, not knowing any other direction, but finding a desire to be married with children. Further, you have people who are very strong in support of having children from religious beliefs.

All in one world - and even, as I said, the developed world, a large cross section of different people. Only at the far fringes do you have people who are staunch anti-natalists or are quiverfulls trying to have as many children as possible.

In real life, there is no group who is a hive mind. There are certain inclinations, but everyone will be different, and even if they have the same views, they will have different reasons for believing in them. This is my long winded way of saying that you should perhaps acknowledge that, unless you are going for a quite alien group of people, there will be diverse groups within it.

You will have people who find intimacy and relationships disgusting, but need offspring for aforementioned roles, as workers, as people to train in your trade. You will have people that do find love - maybe not romantic, sexual love, but a sense of belonging with others.

Civilization is built off of people working together. If people hate being around each other, I have a very hard time understanding how civilization would exist in the first place.

So, to your final question, what can the government do about this?

The frustrating answer - not much. In real life, many governments, notably Japan and Germany as two examples, are watching their populations age with no replacement occuring. They are trying things like monetary incentive to get people to have children, but this doesn't seem to have much results. Japan is trying to replace a lot of jobs in the country with robots, and that is a temporary solution.

Other countries with these problems, to sustain their population, are turning to immigration which has a lot of conflict surrounding it. This is one reason why the US doesn't need to worry about declining birth rates for a while, as the growing immigration from Latin America is keeping things stable.

But eventually, something has to give. Immigrants will become the majority, or the population will decrease significantly, causing the nation's power to wane.

But as mentioned above, there are so many different types of people - and there will always be people who want to have children for one reason or another. So in the refusal of some in your world to have children, those who do will be the ones who steer the ship. Their view of the world will be what shapes broader society, as they raise children with their beliefs.

I'd imagine your society would reach a point where people decide to have children merely out of survival reasons. The country is collapsing and there's a massive labor shortage, and having children, especially very bright, skilled children, may be seen as a badge of honor - others might be awed that you suffered the horror of having a relationship so that you could have a child.

I doubt governments would be able to have much influence with this, other than fueling a fire that was already going.

This of course assumes that your country is somewhat democratic. If you're a totalitarian regime, you just tell people that they can't have food unless they have kids. This of course would lead to many awful, awful acts, people having children and then abandoning them so they can have certain benefits without the responsibility.

So... yeah. I apologize for such a long response. Population and its changes can get really complicated, especially in such an odd situation as the one you described. I recommend studying population growth and decline, looking at the reasons why changes happen, etc. Japan and Germany are good ones to look at, China is a peculiar look into what happens when harsh population control is enforced and all the problems it can cause a country.

I hope that my scatter brained thoughts have provided some insight, or at least direction for where to look for additional information.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think that intimacy and love weren't important to people as recently as a few centuries ago? There are love letters going back to at least the classical era in the archeological record. Plus, the existence of prostitutes pretty strongly indicates sex was not just for reproduction. And then there's the fact that the claim is just implausible. Do you consider intimacy some kind of social construct? It can hardly be invented. $\endgroup$
    – user37344
    Jan 9 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ I should clarify. Obviously people are always going to be engaging in sex and all. I'm talking about more official, firm relationships. And I know that there have always been people in love and all that. My point was that for the majority of people in history, the primary point of marriage and such was not usually love, that is more of an idea coming out of the enlightenment, and especially the aptly named "romantic era." $\endgroup$ Jan 9 at 6:49
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It is a great opportunity for the species to get rid of males!

Males are a relic from the days when groups of mammals required males to defend against other groups of mammals that were going to use their males to take resources. Your scenario is an opportunity to rid the culture of this burdensome heritage.

The females in this society are not interested in males. They might be interested in babies. A male sexual partner is not needed to raise a baby and is no longer needed to produce a baby. Females interested in babies can be artificially inseminated from large stores of banked sperm. They can raise their babies in a "family" group of their choosing - partners of any gender, family members or whatever works for the individuals involved. Sperm can be selected to make females only so the unnecessary males are not produced. Within a couple of generations the superfluous males will be gone and it will be a society of all females with all the benefits that confers. If the sperm supplies run low some males can be raised.

Should there be a technological collapse, artificial insemination can be carried out with stone age technology. I am suspicious though that a technological collapse would have the species revert to ancestral patterns - the acuity of the described problem smells like there is either a technological or cultural reason, both of which would be swept away in the collapse.

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    $\begingroup$ I have an extremely hard time imagining neolithic peoples choosing to artificially inseminate rather than just have relations. In situations of where your power and influence are at stake, and you need a child for labor or taking on a role, it doesn't really matter whether you enjoy the act or not. Look at the history of monarchs and see how many stuck with a wife they hated because they wanted a son. I just... I question your premise of if artificial insemination was even possible or easy so far back. I'd require evidence of this - and again, that doesn't mean it'd be preferred. $\endgroup$ Jan 8 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @WasatchWind Of course you are right. Procreation is the driver of evolutionary fitness. The OP is the one who posited that somehow that went away, not me! The answer does not question whether it could really happen. My answer is a way for society to continue, assuming it happened. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jan 8 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ So basically, the premise of The Last Man on Planet Earth (1999)? You can always trust @Willk to give an outside the box answer! $\endgroup$
    – user93359
    Jan 8 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ With technological collapse, your sperm banks are going to quickly run out of refrigeration. Probably best to keep at least a few males around. Although, what's the point? Sure, the males aren't carrying babies, so the females have to birth twice as much, but that's not particularly hard in the grand scheme of life, and the males will do a lot more work in many fields until much higher tech than we have today. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelS
    Jan 9 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ I dont think the males of a species that values glory, honor, and virtue are simply going to go along with such a plan. This could very easily push the concept of "battle of the sexes" to an all-out civil war. Such a plan could only end in one gender or the other eventually being completely enslaved to the other... and since you assume the males of this species are the natural warrior class, it's much more likely it will become females that end as slaves in such a conflict $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 10 at 19:05
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The species is built around a religious order of monks/nuns/priests. The most hard-working and pious individuals are permitted to enter this order and may then become celibate. Those who fail to meet the criteria are ordered by the priests to do whatever is necessary to have children; otherwise, they will surely not make it into heaven when they die.

Bonus question: How did this species not go extinct before their civilisation developed to this point?

Things used to be very different. They had a somewhat symbiotic relationship with a horrible mind-influencing parasite that gave them an uncontrollable desire to breed (because that helped the parasite to breed too). As a result, the species evolved a very low libido, to help them resist the parasite's influence. Fairly recently, they developed a way to kill the parasite, which had the side-effect of threatening their own continued existence.

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    $\begingroup$ Given the libido problem, it seems better to simply grow whatever hormone the parasites were using and inject people with it for a few years after college. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelS
    Jan 9 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ this is an elegant mechanic for addressing the problem $\endgroup$ Jan 10 at 2:37
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Money

That's it.

Pay people a basic stipend for each child (for some maximum number of children). How you fund and structure this stipend is totally up to you, but the easiest will be through taxes and a decreasing recurring stipend that expires at some age. (This will create problems that can be a plot point as well.)

As a side note, there will never be a 100% population that deplores disgusting sex. There will always be some weirdos who like it. Your stipend will have to account for them as well, possibly as an antagonistic plot point, even.

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  • $\begingroup$ The weirdo's will survive. Your money plan would not work out because it is not so easy to hide your children ! Any "respectable citizen" who accepts money for such disgraceful behaviour will have to suffer the social consequences. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jan 9 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Goodies why would they hide the children?! The whole point is you get monetary advantage if you can prove you have kids. I'd go with taxes: simply tax all citizens who do not have living children with taxes increasing with age (eg. 10% tax when potential parent is at 18 years of age, 20% when they're 22 and still don't have children, 50% if they're 30 and no children, 75% if they are 40, 95% if they are 50 years old and childrenless - making them paupers if they didn't manage to reproduce). It would work just fine, see how human aristocracy breeded children for political/money advantages... $\endgroup$ Jan 9 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ That could be really different in this world. Sex is disgusting in their view "they reproduce with the lights turned off" and they find eachother disgusting. I think handing out a few bucks from the government won't solve these issues (in the first place) and as a side effect, people could be ashamed of having children, or show other people they have children. Maybe I'm extrapolating too far, but I think it might be different from how we handle kids on earth. Your proposal might work in Denmark, this world needs more. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jan 9 at 20:07
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Real Life Example

I wanted to add that this happens in real life.

The Tarahumara people are an indigenous people that live in Mexico and they are known for their running abilities. The men are incredibly shy and bashful when it comes to sex, and so sex usually happens in ritualized drunken orgies. Described in the book, Born to Run.

Also,

Gatherings for celebrations, races, and religious ceremonies often take place with tesgüinadas, a Tarahumara-style beer festival... Tesgüinadas are an important aspect of Tarahumara culture as it is often the only time when men have intercourse with their wives. They act as a social lubricant, as Tarahumara are very shy and private." (wikipedia)

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I don't know how such a situation might have arisen, but evolution will solve the problem... with perhaps a little help.

In this species, males and females are rarely if ever attracted to other individuals.

This may seem to mean that people aren't interested in sex, and it does mean that for most people that is true. However, it also means that some people are interested in sex.

As long as some people are interested in sex, all is not lost. All the government need do is identify these sex-liking individuals and bring them together and provide them with incentives to indulge in sex and to reproduce. With enough incentive, the government reproduction program may well recruit those for whom sex is merely 'a bit yucky' as well as those who like sex, and that's fine... anything is an improvement over total disgust.

As these people reproduce, they will tend to produce offspring who are not totally repulsed by sex, and by breeding these new sex-positive people with one-another, over generations, the people will come to like sex and won't need to be subsidized to reproduce.

It doesn't even matter what the cause of the negativity toward sex may be... the people can evolve a counter to it.

There is practically no easier condition to evolve out of a population: those with the undesirable condition literally won't want to reproduce naturally anyway.

Additionally, if there are females who find sex repulsive, but aren't averse to bearing children, they could be implanted with the in-vitro offspring of sex-positive individuals to boost the birth rate.

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Frame Challenge:

It is unlikely that such a species would ever have developed to the point of intelligence, where non-sexual procreation becomes an option via technical means, or ritual/tradition/alcohol can create a temporary environment or social pressure.

IMHO there are only three ways to solve this:

  1. asexual reproduction - you don't have males and females at all, your creatures reproduce asexual. See https://www.biologyonline.com/dictionary/asexual-reproduction for details
  2. spores - or something similar. Basically, sperm is deposited into eggs without sexual intercourse, the way flowers or trees do it, or entirely outside the body, like fish.
  3. heat / rut - your males and females are not interested in each other for sex for 99% of the time. Humans are actually the exception in nature when it comes to always being interested and ready for sex. Many animals are "in heat" for a short time in intervals, and not much interested in sex the rest of the time.
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The "turkey baster" method

The male, in prvate, deposits their seed into a "needleless syringe" and then comes out and gives it to the female.

The female then, in private, deposits the seed inside of themselves.

This method avoids all physical contact between the male and female.

If you don't even want to see your partner one could set up anonymous ways do it.

  • Let people donate at their local pharmacy. The pharmacy screens the sample for disease, and then the pharmacy sells the samples.
  • Anonymous sample swapping parties.
  • Neighborhood take a sample leave a sample drop boxes.
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Don't assume some people won't want to do it

Whilst the overwhelming majority may not want to have sex or have children, a few will. One lesson to learn from sex and kink is that almost whatever you can imagine, a percentage will find it arousing, even if the majority don't. For a really obvious example, as a straight guy I don't find big hairy men attractive - but within the gay community "bears" are totally a thing. And queer history demonstrates very well that those minority percentages do tend to find each other, especially in big cities where a small percentage of a large population still amounts to a lot of people.

And learn from species with alpha males/females

Many, many species live in a social structure where only one male or female produces offspring. All the other members of the group collaborate to raise those offspring, but do not themselves have offspring. The social group are all related, giving an evolutionary reason to raise another person's offspring. In existing species it's the most dominant animals who get to breed - but there's no reason that the same social structure couldn't work for a species where only a small minority want to breed.

So follow the meerkat model. The extended family group provide for the mother when she's pregnant or nursing (which will be most of the time), and raise the children collectively. Other women in the group may spontaneously lactate as they look after children, so the mother isn't even tied to that. In a modem society (or at least a society with the concept of money and taxes) the government/monarch will presumably also pay a salary to pregnant mothers, and possibly a "sweetener" to men who get them pregnant.

With no problems of childcare or income, and with good healthcare and diet (both of which are largely a factor of income), a woman who likes having children has no reason not to. 20 children? More? The only limit is the time between menarche and menopause.

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Asexuality is a Solution, not a Problem.

While some people will be fearful of population decline, most people will find this far to inconvenient to accept. Laws that force asexuals to have babies are like laws that make Republicans reduce thier carbon footprint. The sheer inconvenience of having to do what they do not want to do will be enough to push them to full heartedly accept any theory, no matter how poorly supported, that says everything will be fine. And since asexuals have such a majority influence, these are the theories that will dominate your society.

So what would this dominate theory look like?

As the leading theory goes, the current state of your society is an epigenetic behavior designed to prevent extinction, not cause it. Many social animals have different behavioral norms based on thier population density and available resources. Rather than just reproducing until they become so numerous they consume all of thier resources and cause a mass extinction event, they reproduce until they reach a certain population density, at which point thier level of sexual attraction declines to flatten the curve.

The thing about this species is that they are capable of very rapid population growth. Their ancestors filled more or less the same niche as mice where heavy predation meant that a mother would need to have 30-40 babies in her life time to keep from dyeing out, but when this species became smart, they rapidly killed off thier predators using traps and weapons, but thier reproductive systems stayed the same.

Throughout the history of this species, cases have come up over and over where thier rapid reproduction and lack of local predictors have caused fatal population booms, so only the ancestors who had a mechanism for self limiting reproduction survived. Now historically, this asexual behavior has only seen maybe 10-50% of the population affected, but modern technology has wiped out diseases, starvation, predation, infertility, and pretty much every other malady that affects thier population. So thier thier population has continued to swell and thier epigenetic asexuality is becoming more and more prominent due to massive overpopulation issues... and this is okay. This is exactly what thier evolutionary history has been preparing them for.

Thanks to thier extraordinary population densities, thier next generation will shrink, but as it does, thier species will naturally return to a more sexual state. This pattern will simply see-saw until their technology stagnates for long enough for thier asexuality levels to settle into a new natural equilibrium.

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Your species uses a more basic, animalistic way of reproducing - a rutting season. During the season, biology via hormones takes over and everyone who is affected partakes in reproductive free for all, if uncontrolled.

Star Trek had a similar concept for Vulcans called Pon Farr,

An extreme physical and psychological imbalance every seven years requires a mating ritual or death can ensue.

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