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Setting:

  • Partially rebuilt post apo world, normal sex ratio

  • Technology: comparable to early XXIst century

  • Affluence: first world equivalent

  • Mixed economy, semi-authoritarian system, low level of corruption

Info concerning aims:

  • rebuilding population possibly fast, while maintaining high educational attainment
  • keeping equal rights

  • maintaining any tradition is NOT an aim (as a matter of principle no one seriously minds homosexual marriage, multi partner marriage, any other polyamory system or low age of consent, as long as no one in such relationships seems to be abused)

  • keeping population possibly happy

Extra info concerning system:

  • generous child benefits tied to kid results in standardized school tests

  • no child alimony money (gov already takes care), but instead of retirement system gov transfers to people a share of their descendant income

  • punitive tax on childless people (with some accomodation for health conditions including both infertility and heritable conditions that would be better if were not passed on next generation)

  • banned abortion, except of very good reasons (rape, damaged baby, serious risk for mother)

  • surrogacy motherhood not only allowed but also subsidized for infertile people

  • very good public services concerning children (childcare, healthcare, schooling) including childcare facilities at secondary schools and campuses

Ok, so how to govern and recognize by gov polyamorous and short term relationship, while keeping everything more or less fair, not too complicated and not making divorce lawyers excessively rich?

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    $\begingroup$ All marriage is just contract law. The parties involve form and sign the contract as they see fit, with the terms they see fit. Bam. Simplistic solution. $\endgroup$ – Nex Terren Oct 1 '16 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ A punitive tax on the childless sounds like a big problem. That would probably discourage homosexual marriage. Also, if a man and woman have a child, then separate (i.e. your short term relationship) and there is no alimony, does the father get hit with the childless tax? If so, women hold the power to stick male partners they don't like with a huge tax penalty. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Oct 3 '16 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Nex Terren - I'm afraid it's not only property/property issue, but also involves for example child custody or not being obliged to testify against one's family member. $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Oct 3 '16 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ What you're describing doesn't seem to have anything to do with families or marriage in any normal sense. Child custody, alimony, etc., can all apply whether there was a marriage contract or not. And things like spousal privilege (testimony rules) seem absurd in the example of short-term relationships. The whole point of spousal privilege is to make it easier to spend an entire life with the same person. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Oct 4 '16 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ There's also a rather large problem with your scenario. In the case of "99% of males are dead" or something, uncontrolled childbirth makes sense until the population is stabilized, because you want that tiny genetic variance to produce as much as possible before it dies out and becomes even tinier. In a case with 50:50 sex ratios, especially in a technologically-limited environment, it will likely be quite easy to produce far more children than the people can manage, especially if you're trying to educate them all. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Oct 4 '16 at 22:21
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Institute state care for all children

A major reason that people avoid or delay having kids, as well as to enter into long-term monogamous relationships, is to ensure their financial ability to care for those kids. If you want to increase the birth rate, reduce the costs involved with having kids. An easy way to do this would be for government institutions to handle all child rearing. Parents would still be able to visit their kids, and could help take care of them, but ultimately the parents would go home to their home and children would stay in the care center.

Reward all couples for each child

If all couples, regardless of marriage status, receive a financial reward for having kids, there would be a major incentive for people to have lots of kids. Rather than being a financial strain that one would need to get ready for, having a kid could be a way of paying for college or putting money towards a new house.

Allow for women to designate any number of husbands, who will all share the paternal child reward

Finally, allow a woman to have any number of husbands, and a man to have any number of wives. When a child is born, all husbands receive a portion of the reward for being the father of that child. Men would be pressured to go out and have as many wives as possible, in order to maximize their earnings. Meanwhile, men would be required to assist their wives with living expenses, so it would be in the interest of a woman to gather as many men as possible, and to produce as many children as possible with those men, in order to increase her desirability.

Eliminate everything else about marriage

Marriage does not grant power of attorney and does not merge finances. There are no entangling factors, so it's easy for men and for women to enter and leave relationships. Marriage exists for the purpose of producing a ton of children and getting paid for it.

This sort of system would be optimal for polygamous and short term relationships, which would be optimal for men and for women to have as many children as possible in a short span of time.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm missing the reason why there is marriage at all here. The one and only purpose is to be "designated" as a parent of a child to receive a government payment? Seems to be a rather convoluted system for a horribly inefficient means of subsidizing children. Instead of a large bureaucracy trying to track who is in a relationship (or some sort, at least so they claim) with whom, just give that childbirth reward directly to the mother. Saves lots on compliance and administration costs, simplifies everything, direct subsidy to the actual event desired. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Oct 7 '16 at 13:31
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Well, if keeping people happy is only a minor concern, then we have some solid options. I don't believe that such a situation will persist for long, as people are, by definition, very emotionally invested about their relationships and children. Also, your requirement for "keeping equal rights" will be almost impossible. That said, onward!

Discourage partnerships to begin with If we assume that the government can "take care" of any number of children to any reasonable standard, people will be incentivized to produce children out of wedlock to begin with. This is really the optimal case from the legal perspective; one parent is a custodial parent and receives a government income, and the other is non-custodial, and pays taxes on their work income. In order to accommodate this:

Marriage is disadvantageous To begin with, marriage will be heavily taxed. Government support will revolve around single parents; birthing classes will not accommodate non-birthers, parenting courses will avoid talking about two-parent situations, and schools, hospitals, and so forth will assume single parenthood on legal forms. Importantly, parents will receive the "baby bonus", which is taxable, whether or not they live with the child; this creates equality between the parents, and makes sure it is creating children that is incentivized, not child care. With the promise of comfortable government support, and no requirement for child support from a non-custodial parent, separation (or, more likely not moving in together at all), will be extremely attractive to both parties. Since separated parents should owe each other nothing, no kind of partnership should be officially recognized to do so. A limited list of reasonable major joint assets, such as a home or a vehicle, may be registered with the government for liquidation and division afterwards, but generally, joint ownership of anything is illegal. This means a custodial parent will likely loose out big-time on separation, and is really better off staying on their own to begin with. Since child rearing isn't really incentivized or desirable:

State child care should be the norm Most people will want to have a state institution do the child rearing, and visit their child on an ongoing basis. This allows them both to maintain their careers, as well as equalizes parental time and standards of living for the children. To really encourage this, either parent should be able to veto in-home care in favour of state institutional care, right from birth. This will also keep people from abusing their children to achieve better marks to earn higher baby bonuses.

TL;DR Make legal partnerships or marriages legally and socially difficult to begin, severely limit or eliminate joint asset ownership and division thereof on separation, ensure both parents are paid for creating the child regardless of the parenting arrangement, and normalize the institutionalizing of children from birth to create truly equal parenting arrangements.

Personally, I think the criteria given are ludicrously unacheiveable.

  • Baby farming will be a popular choice of job. For parental (and indirectly, gender) equality to be fulfilled, payment must be equal to both parents regardless of their involvement in child rearing; but this means that non-custodial parents will earn comfortable livings for no ongoing effort, and your workforce will be hamstrung. If non-custodial parents don't receive a payment, then a) your idea about encouraging fair short-term or polygamous relationships will be moot b) one gender or the other will likely be heavily disadvantaged in proportion to the size of the baby bonus (just like now!), and c) separation will continue to be complex and acrimonious, resulting in enrichment of legal professionals.
  • Baby farming requires no education, but can be a comfortable living under this system (as it indeed is to some degree now). The number of people who choose to do this will depend on how competitive this income is, relative to other jobs. If the payments are high enough, your workforce will be severely disabled, but if they're too low relative to other jobs, you create a disadvantaged population. This is historically not a solveable problem.
  • Lack of child support means that unscrupulous men are incentivized to create babies and abandon them, placing an inordinate load on the government system, and creating enormous inequality for women. For the wealthy, men will especially be able to lure women into becoming pregnant and then abandoning them as a form of tax write-off. The ability of men to do this at a much higher rate than women is an inequality that you will never solve without requiring ongoing child support.
  • The next generation will have the same choices as their parents, but they'll be loaded by losing a portion of their income to their parents. In order to insure that children are properly cared for, baby bonuses will have to increase to accommodate the loss of this income for the child.
  • All the legal incentives in the world won't really help with divorce much, since division of money isn't really the worst part of separation, it's the division of the kids. People are super emotional about it, and probably won't respond in rational ways to legislation in the way you think. This is somewhat mitigated by the above plan of minimizing parental involvement at all, or at least restricting parental involvement to a single parent; even so, children will be traumatized when it happens, and your whole society will revolve around this being very common.
  • As a result of your plan to base compensation on a child's education, teachers will gain enormous amounts of power over people's lives, and the economy and politics of teaching will drastically change. I won't venture to guess how this will turn out, except to say that power has a distressing tendency to corrupt.
  • Abortion will likely become more contentious, as some mothers will want to bring babies to term regardless of the consequences, just for the money. State control of abortion will be difficult to maintain.
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Use separate contracts for the different parts of the encounter.

A marriage contract has certain terms, including duration, break clauses and notice to terminate requirements. Most importantly it covers children and childcare and how to deal with assets held in common.

Anne Mccaffrey had some good ideas with this on some of her worlds where people would contract for a body heir. It was primarily a reproductive and financial contract between two independently wealthy people with the single intent of producing an heir for one of them. In short, one person contracts with another to sire/bear a child to be an heir to their fortune and social position. Any lingering details of love and recreation are entirely separate to the contract.

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Get rid of inheritance.

Human monogamy originated around the time that mankind started settling down, building homes and generally having a concept of property. They had things to pass down to the next generation, so they wanted to make sure that the next generation was actually theirs before giving over all their possessions. Hence monogamy became a thing.

By the sounds of it, in this society the actual genetic parentage doesn't matter too much and all children are pretty much taken care of, then having inheritance go to the gov rather than children would make things such as monogamy much less serious in the society's eyes.

Keeping finances separate during relationships would help in the event of 'divorce', however this is problematic if someone is a designated care giver, or stay at home parent so hasn't contributed equally to paying bills etc. This is where things get really gnarly in divorce courts at the moment. Should they also get a share of the house? But it could be that stay at home parents receive a stipend from the government in this society, so they have the potential to earn just as much as a parent who goes out to work.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem I see with this is the reverse inheritance: "instead of retirement system gov transfers to people a share of their descendant income." $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Oct 4 '16 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ "Human monogamy originated around the time that mankind started settling down, building homes and generally having a concept of property." Citation needed. There are a lot of theories on the evolution of human monogamy, both biological and cultural. There is no scientific consensus on when or why human monogamy began. $\endgroup$ – Mike Nichols Oct 4 '16 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ Certainly this answer is more relevant and plausible if you replace "monogamy" with "marriage". Polygynous marriage arrangements also enforce patriarchal inheritance, without requiring (male) monogamy. $\endgroup$ – Lord Dust Oct 4 '16 at 20:01
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When you dissect marriage and relationships, you very quickly understand how deeply they are rooted in culture. Specifically: Non-equal male-female cultural status.

A large part of relationship "rules" only make sense in the context of a society where males work and provide for the family, and women (and children) are dependent on them. Once you remove that, you will see relationships change, as we do in the real world.

If you build a fictional world where men and women are economically equal, no further ingredient is needed. While jealousy might have biological origins, and thus might take a lot of generations to disappear, the root cause is dependency. Men want their genes to continue, so they need to guard the woman. Women are vulnerable during pregnancy and child rearing and thus need to be sure of the man.

So how to govern this? The simple solution is: Don't.

If there is economic security for all, or at least to the same degree, which purpose does a state-recognized marriage serve at all?

The only thing that is left is a family recognition, which is useful for things like inheritance, rights such as being able to refuse testimony against your family in a court, or information and access to them in a hospital. This is not a marriage thing, it's a matter of recognising family ties (parents or children have the same rights in many cases). But once you've made that small step away from a traditional marriage model, polyamory is simply an administrative matter of changing the registration form to having multiple lines.

One more aspect of marriage is shared income or shared property. However, non-family models for such already exist - you can buy a house together with a friend, for example. They would simply be applied. Again, no additional overhead needed, just small adaptations.

We are actually fairly close to exactly what you want, once you look behind the religious and cultural taboos. We have non-married couples being able to register as partners in many countries. We have homosexual couples being able to register as partners in many countries. The step to allowing three people to register a partnership really isn't that big, and doesn't require all that much legal changes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very good idea with this family recognition, thanks $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Apr 5 '17 at 18:23
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Take the libertarian route and get out of the marriage biz altogether. Existing laws would cover any squabbles over property and custody of children would be judged on an individual basis

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