Near future, aside from the fact that there is now the 23rd generation of iPhone, nothing has changed that much in terms of technology; society advanced all over the world as we would expect.

The Device
A full package including zygote extraction device and artificial womb. This allows women with fertilized egg(s) or early embryo to transfer their offspring into a container, which functions as an artificial womb all the way to the birth of the child so long as it is plugged into the wall and have fluid replacement every once a month or so.
The device is quite expensive, costing about as much as a fairly expensive vehicle in today's society, but some owners/institutions may choose to rent theirs. It also consumes consideration amounts of energy to function, even though electricity is presumably cheaper in the future(?)

How would this change the demographic of the working population?

Reference information
For the most common variants of this device:

  • 9 month functioning time, 2-3 weeks of maintenance between uses
  • Cost of maintenance is similar to the cost of maintaining a high-end vehicle
  • Total life time of 8-10 functioning sessions
  • Risk to baby: if power is cut or regulation computer is broken/hacked, the baby will die rather quickly. If fluid circulation is broken or exchange fluid is not clean, risk of infection will be present (which is usually fatal)
  • If device failure is anticipated, transfer procedure can be performed by professionals.

You may consider this information to be "volatile", as in, you are free to consider alternative situations in which they are different, if that's more interesting.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How long can it work between maintenance sessions? What is cost of maintenance? What is total lifetime of such device? What are the risks to the baby? How (un)likely is for device to fail? Is transferring fetus possible in case of failure? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ You're writing a prequel to Huxley's Brave New World! I love i! These are the early days of artificial gestation, when only the rich could afford the path to pregnancy-free parenthood. Who knew in those early, golden days that we were pouring the foundations for a family-free future. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ The only reasonable use for such a device would be for women who are so busy in their careers, for example because they are high commanders in the military, or highly positioned managers, that they cannot afford carrying a pregnancy to term. See for example the Honorverse series of novels by David Weber, where such devices are available when needed. As a consequence the influence on the workforce would be insignificant. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Am I the only one that thought this question was in reference to a "birthing" market rather than a "workforce" market? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that if you make it more expensive to make a baby than it is to make a baby, most people will still make babies the normal way. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:17

5 Answers 5


No Significant Change

An artficial womb allows the mother to stay in the workforce up to the day of childbirth. This saves a few weeks or months, but the time is not significant compared to the time it takes to raise a child.

An artificial womb allows the mother to postpone the childbirth unti late in life, but again the considerations of raising the child discourage late pregnancies.

Mothers will not lactate without the pregnancy, so there is one less reason why females will predominately handle parenting. But again, fathers can already take much of the responsibility if they want.

Summarized, not much of a change.

For a real change, you would have to find a technological substitute for parenting.

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    $\begingroup$ Not to mention the high cost means most mothers will not be able to afford it anyway. Also many mother will be unwilling to use it since not breastfeeding is bad for the child. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ @John I think the breastfeeding is to an extent a cultural thing. I know of several cultures that equate being able to pay for formula as a status symbol so formula is encouraged. While I feel breastfeeding better for the child most of the time, I know many successful and intelligent people who were exclusively formula fed. I totally agree with you about cost though. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ Breastfeeding isn't an intelligence thing (those studies have lots of confounding factors) it is a health and immune system thing. Children who were are breastfed show much lower rates of immune diseases including allergies and have healthier digestive systems, mostly due to a change in their internal bacteria colonies. nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/breastfeeding/conditioninfo/Pages/…, Note most people who use formula still breastfeed for time before using it.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595080 $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ It is possible to lactate without a pregnancy, usually using a combination of manual stimulation (to increase prolactin levels) and hormone therapy (to increase prolactin levels). $\endgroup$
    – user25972
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ I would note that a father can breastfeed, there are tools to extract milk, and it can then be stored in the fridge for a couple days and be bottle-fed. Only 2/3 manual extractions are necessary a day, which is compatible with a regular working day. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 8:10

The only reasonable use for such a device would be for women cannot carry a pregnancy, or who are so busy in their careers, for example because they are high commanders in the military, or highly positioned managers, that they cannot afford carrying a pregnancy to term. See for example the Honorverse series of novels by David Weber, where such devices are available when needed. As a bonus, the novels discuss the need to provide the fetus with sounds and stimuli mimicking the natural heartbeat of the mother and the sounds in the natural environment such as voices or music.

Spoiler: both Honor Harrington and her co-spouse Lady Emily Alexander have children using such devices.

User Henry Taylor mentioned that pregnancies can be dangerous. I firmly believe that in a world which has artificial wombs medicine is obviously sufficiently advanced to detect any risks and either mitigate them or advise the use of an artificial womb.

As a consequence the influence on the workforce would be insignificant.


At first it seemed innocent enough, But:

The device is so expensive that it can only be afforded by large enterprises, Parents or Mothers concerned with their ability to carry and support a child or even raise it in the early stages of its life can have the fetus removed and signed over to a company to be transferred in to a artificial womb, The child will receive full health care and education until the age of 18 then be released from the contract. The appeal is compensation from the company to the mother, full education and health care for the child and free labour for the company, Better than a abortion?

Perhaps 18 years after the first generations start to come out. They are not as functional and well cared for as people had thought and none of them will talk about what they had to do. Maybe they even refuse to leave the company as they are so "happy" there.


I think the only way this could affect the workforce would be by creating more jobs. You will need people to monitor those artificial wombs and you will need specialists who know how to implant the wombs, and "birth" the children.

Speaking from experience, unless there are complications, I know that women can work through pregnancy up until the day their child is born. The only real hit to the workforce comes after the child is born. Then a parent (usually the mother) must take time off to watch their children full time or until they can be left alone (daycares don't watch infants until they're at least 6 weeks old).


That depends entirely on how they are used. For one thing, women may be more willing to have children knowing they can avoid the hassle of pregnancy, and they will be able to have children beyond the traditional fertility window. So rich countries may have more kids, which would ease a lot of the issue's they're having with population reduction.

More interestingly, this could allow more authoritarian governments (not to mention human traffickers) to start breeding large numbers of humans. They would still have to raise the children to adulthood, limiting the "clone army" factor a bit, but I can see some governments building out their armies doing this.


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