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How would society be different if it was human nature that 75% of all births were fatal, as in resulting in the death of the mother. The infants usually survive these births unharmed. There is no cure or medical treatment for this, no matter how technologically advanced society may become.

Additional questions: How would this affect population? How much lower would the population be today, probably?

Note 1: It has always been this way biologically for humans.

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    $\begingroup$ No humanity, soon. How long ago this supposedly started? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 8:51
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    $\begingroup$ I see that you changed your question quite drastically from 75% to 25%. If you continue this you may invalidate existing answers, which is something we don't like. We have a Sandbox on Meta where you can test questions before releasing them onto the main site and get feedback on style, on-topic/off-topic, grammar, flaws in your premise, ... Might be a good idea to give it a try next time. Currently it's okay with your edits, but please don't lower it any further. You can always ask follow-up questions $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Do not change questions in a way that invalidates already posted answers. See this: meta.stackexchange.com/q/43478/225745 - If you have to, then post a follow-up question with changed premise. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be too broad. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ The open ended unguided “what if” or “what does thaf do to society” is too broad for a question here. You can discuss on Worldbuilding Meta or Worldbuilding Chat to get advice and and ideas in editing it, and note that the post can be reopened again after discussion. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 10:21

5 Answers 5

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If it always been this way, then other things works really different, or there is no humanity.

Multiple children per birth are minority we can ignore for rough calculations. So there is 100% chance for first child to exist, 25% for second and ~6% for third. This gives us ~1.32 child per woman, on average. About 50% chance for a girl. So in each generation there is only ~66% of women that was in previous one. And that assuming they are guarded against all other reasons of death, which can't reasonably be true. Not many generations, and you don't have humans, because there is no one to give birth.

Ways to make humanity happen with this constrain are left for the author to decide. You need about one girl per women, and some boys, to have stable population. More than that to spread. When decided, we may answer next question, about society.

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    $\begingroup$ Assuming of course that the chance of each birth being fatal is independent of the last birth, which is unlikely. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs Of course. But usually it's lower chance for successful birth after complicated first pregnancy, so it is only worse than I answered. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ If it's safely possible, you could abort most male fetuses or use artificial insemination to control the sex of the child. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ The "Multiple children per birth are minority" assumption is rather dubious as well, since is a strong evolutionary pressure to change that. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ @CodesInChaos this falls into "other things works really different", the very first sentence of my answer. With only mother's death chance changed, ~3.5% of multiple birth pregnancies can be safely ignored. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:36
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There are few animals for which reproducing brings to certain death. One of these animals is the octopus, which protects its eggs refraining from eating until (usually) starvation.

The difference between octopus and homo sapiens is that an octopuss lays thousands of eggs, so the net result is population increase. For a single birth this lethal outcome would turn into certain extinction over rather short time.

Moreover don't forget that human babies require high level of parental cares for years. Lowering the active parents to 1 will also lower the survival chances.

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  • $\begingroup$ Alright I'm bringing it down to 25%, I'm trying to find the balance between not too much that it prevents the founding of civilizations or leads to extinction, but enough that it will change everyday life forever. $\endgroup$
    – Noble
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Noble If your real goal was to find the ratio that makes it believable to create a society you should have said so in your question instead of assuming a percentage. Please leave the question as it is and try our Sandbox if you need a follow-up to find a better percentage. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:25
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This depends.

Do you mean every single child born has a 75% chance of killing the mother or that 75% of births are fatal?

In the first case, see Molot's answer.

In the second case: Fecund women become really, really prized.

If 75% of births result in a death then we can expect the vast majority of deaths to be first time mothers, those that have never given birth before. These unfortunate souls can have only one child. The survivors, however, are those that are good at breeding.

At this point evolution takes over. Bloodlines known for multiple childbirths (especially multiple children per birth) will be highly desired, and since all the other bloodlines have died out (because of the imposed 75% death rate) the only ones surviving will be those where multiple births are the norm. Expect every pregnancy to result in at least twins, if not greater numbers of children (somewhat similar to Saiga Antelope). Large families with lots of half-siblings and stepmothers will be the norm.

I would expect such a society to value women for a very specific role, that of being pregnant and bearing multiple children. Which is not too dissimilar to the state of humanity less than a hundred years ago.

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  • $\begingroup$ Somewhat confused about the downvote. Is there a specific reason I can address or is it just random dislike? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ Don’t you just hate driveby downvotes? Have to assume she doesn’t like the story you describe. I don’t think this is deserving of downvoting. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 10:17
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Because you are changing the rate of survival often, here is a simple computation.

This is a very rough approximation, but it gives an idea. A few assumption: With a high rate of death at birth, a large pressure will be put on women to have as much babies as they can. That's terrible, but let assume that they are force to give birth until they die. Raising babies will be the work of men. Of course, with such harsh conditions, women are protected and cared by men, so the only moment a woman can die is during birth. Assume no problem of sterility, and with high rate of death at birth, menopause is not an issue. We also ignore twins.

Then, consider a rate of survival at birth of $r$. That is, if $N$ women give birth, $rN$ of them will survive, and have to bear a baby again. On these $rN$, $r^2N$ will have a second baby; $r^3N$ lucky women will have a third baby and so on..

This means that the $N$ women will give birth to $N(1+r+r^2+\dots)=N\frac{1}{1-r}$ babies (geometric series). Half of them, that is $\frac{N}{2}\frac{1}{1-r}$, are girls. If you want a strict renewal of generations, you need $\frac{N}{2}\frac{1}{1-r}=N$, which means $r=\frac{1}{2}$, hence a rate of survival of $50\%$.

With same conditions, a smaller rate of survival will result in a population decreasing more or less slowly. A higher rate of survival means a growing population, or people can stop treating women like animals.

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You would quickly see a decline in population. Or you would need to make multiplicious pregnancies norm and high probability of females being born.

A women needs 10-15 years to be able to birth a child so let's assume we start with estimated population in 1500 which is 500 millions, they are all 15 years old. From that we assume that half are female and they go into pregnancy at the same time. After 9 months (let's say a year) you have 250 millions kids of which , let's say 75% are females.

So now we have 250 millions fertile men and 62,5 women. And one more year they give birth and 75% are females. So as you can see the amount of females would minish while the male population would steady grow.

You could go with X-75%xuntil you would end up with no women. I say 100 years tops.

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