Do you want to increase the world’s population?

It is not our goal to increase the world's population. Global population will collapse and it is too late to prevent it.  

The Titanic is going to hit the iceberg. We are not trying to prevent that, as prevention is no longer possible. Instead, we are trying to prepare as many lifeboats as possible. 

As population collapse occurs, many of the institutions our society takes for granted, such as cultural pluralism and our economic system, will begin to falter in ways that will cause untold suffering. Our goal is to help cultures and nations prepare for this inevitability and create a "soft landing" rather than a "hard landing" to demographic collapse.

I read something in Insider about preserving wealthy tech culture.

Insider's piece on the new generation of pronatalism painted a misleading picture of the movement, though we understand why: Doing so drives clicks! Imagine if there really were some secret cabal of rich dudes myopically focused on essentially replicating themselves, as the article implies. Wouldn’t that be outrageous and wild? Wouldn’t you like to rant about that online?

While the highest-profile people in the pronatalist movement are wealthy or famous, that is true of most movements it would be similar to dismissing environmentalism because all the environmentalists you can think of off the top of your head are wealthy or famous).

I read somewhere that your founders want to replace the world's population with their kids.

Yes, again, this was a misleading quote from the Insider article on the new pronatalist movement. If the founders of Pronatalist.org truly wanted a world populated only by their descendants, why would they have founded this organization? Why would they put so much effort into public advocacy? Logically, it is those who have many kids and choose not to discuss this issue publicly who likely want to replace you.

Our objectives were misinterpreted when we pointed out that the descendants of just one family that had eight kids for eleven generations would outnumber the world's current population. We make this point to highlight that, unlike environmentalism, demographic collapse is not a tragedy of the commons issue. We don't need everyone from a cultural group to be on board in order to save that group; even just a small handful of families can save an entire culture.

Are you concerned about a "Handmaid's Tale" scenario?

YES! This is why we are fighting a hard landing on demographic collapse! If we fail to develop prosocial, freedom-friendly interventions addressing demographic collapse, nations are going to start forcing women to give birth. 

If we fail, Handmaid's Tale-style scenarios become increasingly likely among survivors in developed nations.

Do you target specific ethnic groups over others?

We do not target specific ethnic groups even though some ethnic groups are more at risk than others of functionally disappearing due to low birth rates. Because data can be interpreted many ways, an organization that allowed itself to prioritize specific ethnicities over others would run a high risk of taking unintentional racist action harming both prioritized and non-prioritized groups. As such, we attempt to help all groups fight declining birth rates with the understanding groups with below-repopulation-rate birth rates that fail to adopt efficacious interventions will go functionally extinct. As unethical as it is to let a group go extinct, various cultures' survival ultimately comes down to the actions of their members.

We do, however, care about diversity. Genetic and cultural diversity play a crucial role in transmitting humanity’s collective skills and wisdom across generations. This means we encourage self-sustaining birth rates among:
1. As many different cultures as possible.
2. As many different genetic and sociological profiles as possible.

Do you target specific countries or regions over others?

While Pronatalist.org does not prioritize any particular culture or ethnicity, it does prioritize aid to certain nations—those with the lowest birth rates—over others. Scolding a pronatalist organization for mostly operating in developed countries is as ludicrous as scolding a soup kitchen for primarily operating in low income neighborhoods. Just as there is no need to operate a soup kitchen in an ultra-wealthy gated community, there is no point in operating a pronatalist organization in a nation with a high fertility rate and to do so would waste our donors' resources.

Does “great replacement theory” hold any water?

Great Replacement Theory claims that other ethnic groups are replacing "white people" and that immigration must be halted in order to "save white people." While we can understand how someone, particularly an ethno-supremist (racist), looking at the data ten years ago may make this assumption, current data suggests the exact opposite. White people have the slowest declining birth rate of any ethnic group in the United States, according to current data. In fact, at the global scale, the only two groups that show any level of "significant resistance" to post-prosperity-induced demographic collapse are Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews (the first of which is an overwhelmingly white group).

Making this theory even more absurd, a quick look at nations ranked by fertility rate makes one thing clear: The more monoethnic / monocultural a nation is, the more vulnerable it is to demographic collapse. In other words, low-diversity countries like South Korea, Japan, and China have very low fertility rates while high diversity countries like the USA, France, and Israel are the most resistant to demographic collapse. This is not a matter of immigrants making up for low caucasian birth rates. In each of these countries, caucasian birth rates are higher than those in other, less-diverse countries (in the USA and Israel, this is obvious, but for data on this phenomenon in France, see this link). Thus, even if your only goal is to "save white people," (which our organization holds is an immoral goal) literally the single most illogical thing you could do is stop immigration. 

This is not to say that no sub-group of caucasians is at risk of being completely eradicated from humanity's cultural mix and gene pool. One of the most at-risk groups in the world, from a fertility standpoint, are urban, white progressives. That said, we are fairly certain this is not the group about which Great Replacement Theorists worry.

I read that your organization believes IQ is heritable.

"Believe" is not the right word. It is the current scientific consensus that IQ has a heritable component. Howeverr—and we must state this as emphatically as possibler—it is also currently scientific consensus that there are no meaningful group or ethnic differences in this heritability. It is just as pseudoscientific to claim that IQ has no genetic correlates as it is to claim genetics indicate one ethnic group is "better" than another. Our organization is secular in nature and thus must follow scientific consensus. If that consensus changes, so will our positions on this topic.

Are your founders eugenicists?

This is a common but spurious accusation hurled at Malcolm and Simone due to their use of polygenic risk score technology. As believers in advancing reproductive technology and maximizing the reproductive choices available to parents, the founders of the Pronatalist Foundation used polygenic risk screening technology on their own embryos (granting them access to information about the relative risk of things like cancer, schizophrenia, and depression in their embryos).

If you define eugenics as "that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population," then the founders of the Pronatalist Foundation are not eugenicists. It is the firmly-held position of both Pronatalist.org and its founders that there is no such thing as a "good or a bad" gene in a global context; there are only preferences for some genes over others at the family or cultural level (this is paired with the belief that families should enjoy reproductive freedom). This is the definition of eugenics our organization holds and thus we believe eugenics to be an evil practice.

Alternatively, if by "eugenicist" you refer to "someone who believes human traits have a genetic component and acts on that knowledge when making personal reproductive choices," then, yes, we fall under that category. By that definition, however, anyone who thinks it's a bad idea to have kids with a close relative is a eugenicist. In addition Jews who screen for Tay-Sachs (a very common practice due to its frequency in some Jewish communities) and Black Americans who screen for sickle cell disease (about 1 in 13 Black or African-American babies is born with sickle cell trait) would be eugenicists. A definition of eugenics that makes the vast majority of certain cultural or ethnic groups who just are trying to lower the risk of disease in their kids eugenicists is deeply immoral. It lowers the bite of a term that should have a lot of weight and is racist against groups with a high frequency of maladaptive genetic traits that are forced to use said technology. 

We also understand some people define eugenicists as "people who believe some human traits have a genetic component and if those traits are also linked to higher reproductive success, they will increase in frequency within the population as a whole." We don't really have a response to this—it's a basic biological fact. People who deny basic truths to win evanescent political fights are not good people as they show "winning" matters more to them than reality. 

So no, the organization takes a position that is directly in opposition to the goals of eugenicists by every non-racist definition of the term.

What exactly do you do?

Our major projects center around a few things:
1. Building social technologies (like dating markets) to fix some of society's largest failings that lead to low birth rates
2. Building educational technologies through CollinsInstitute.org that lower the cultural pressure exerted through public education which erases traditional cultures and lowers fertility rates
3. Researching how functionally cultures can make themselves more resistant to demographic collapse, as can be seen in The Pragmatist's Guide to Crafting Religion (a book owned by and produced by the foundation, with all its proceeds going to the non-profit)
4. Compiling data and intellectual resources that highlight the economic, biological, cultural, and political factors that lead to declining birth rates
5. Publishing research on and advocating against regulations that increase the cost of having kids
6. Partnering with fertility technology and genome sequencing organizations to offer reproductive health services and information7. Partnering with sperm/egg banks and surrogacy clinics to do the same
8. Reducing the cost of raising children through education and childcare networks
9. Working with states to advise on pronatalist policy issues and providing resources with unique cultural and political environments in mind
10 Creating what we call “intergenerationally durable cultures” by making it easier for parents from low-birth-rate cultures to pass their cultures on to their kids in a manner that motivates those kids to (1) have kids of their own and (2) pass that culture on to them in turn

What pronatalist policies are most effective?

This is a complex and constantly evolving issue. It encompasses biological, economic, social, religious, and political factors, which often differ based on the historical context of the nation in question. We are not promising any easy “fixes,”—rather, Pronatalist.org represents the first serious attempt to coordinate interdisciplinary and international conversations on the problem, while also offering concrete services that have impact at the local level.

What Doesn’t Seem to Work
In short, the following policies have been tried and appear to not work (due to insufficient effect size, long-term backlash, and/or political infeasibility):
- Birth control and abortions (this works within a generation but causes fertility to crash between generations)
- Cash payouts for having kids
- Tax breaks for having kids
- Taxes on childless citizens
- Lowering the cost of childcare

Government policies have generally proven ineffective. With respect to the size of impact, the most successful pronatal policy ever recorded involved the dictator of Communist Romania completely banning abortion and contraception, however this act produced several negative side effects: The size of the increase wasn’t enough, the policy produced many problems (including tragic numbers of orphans poorly supported by woefully inadequate state resources), and the generation born under this policy demonstrated far less interest in having kids, for social or biological reasons.

Both Poland and Hungary recently adopted aggressive pronatalist policies. It is generally agreed that despite spending around 4% of their GDP on them Hungary’s policies did not work and that either Polish efforts did not work or did not work well enough (only producing a 6% increase in births).

For a list of studies on pronatalist policies and their effect sizes, see this Google Doc (note: there is debate as to whether these policies show large effect sizes).

The only policy intervention of which we are aware that had a fairly uncontested effect on birth rate involved the Soviet Union taxing individuals without kids—a solution that is politically unrealistic in governments with elected leaders.

What about lowering the cost of child care? Does that help at all? This is a fairly well studied intervention. Evidence suggests that inexpensive or free child care does increase fertility rates, but not nearly enough for it to be a “solution.”

In general, interventions like free child care and cash payouts for having kids don’t seem to have the level of impact needed to stave off demographic collapse. Governments need to modify fertility rates up by at least 25% over the long term for that to be the case. We created Pronatalist.org and its associated nonprofit in an attempt to call attention to the wider issue in policy circles, but when we realized there were no already-proven and feasible policy answers, we dropped our emphasis on legislation and shifted our focus to higher-leverage interventions.

What Does Seem to Work

There is far less robust information on which interventions will significantly improve birth rates in developed economies, however Pronatalist.org is presently most interested in exploring and testing:
- Easing of restrictions and regulations around child rearing
- Leveraging culture and religion to provide an exogenous reason to have kids above repopulation rate (in developed nations, where children no longer provide more immediate economic value or “insurance” in the form of elder care and support)

Though these interventions have yet to be studied in detail and empirically proven, we have reason to believe that easing regulation and restrictions around child rearing and schooling could have a positive effect on birth rates while costing governments relatively little (see “On Car Seats as Contraception” by Zvi Mowshowitz for an exploration of this approach).

So far, on the front of more empirically proven interventions, cultural and religious pronatalist policies appear to have been effective.

Some religion-motivated policies can have a large impact on fertility rate. A mix of strong cultural/religious norms in favor of family values and welfare at the local level can encourage higher birth rates, as seen with Turkey’s Islamist party (AKP).

We see perhaps the most successful story of a religious authority promoting higher fertility in Georgia, where the Orthodox Church Patriarch announced he would personally baptize and become godfather to any third-or-higher Orthodox child born to a married couple in the country. This increased the fertility rate by almost 25% without any significant negative social outcome. This demonstrates an interesting role of social capital, cultural homogeneity, and faith in the pronatalist question. This also means that secular countries will have a different set of challenges and tools to solve the issue.

Who should have kids?

Population collapse will not be ameliorated by convincing individuals with low birth rate iterations of their culture to have a few kids. In other words, it is of no benefit to convince someone who is not culturally motivated to have kids to have one or two kids, as their kids are also unlikely to want to have kids. Instead, demographic collapse is best addressed (intergenerationally) by facilitating those who want big families to find compatible partners earlier and have more kids (e.g., helping someone who has five kids—but would like to have more—to have six, seven, or eight kids). We understand this is hard for some people to hear in a society where everyone is the center of their own online universe, but if you don't feel inclined to have kids, this movement is not about you. That said, we want to support anyone who wants to have kids (or more kids).

Pronatalist.org is pro-human. We do not pressure people to have kids. We do, however, want to support anyone who wants to have kids (or more kids) by making it easy across multiple dimensions for them to do so.

What is your position on adoption?

We very much support adoption—not just among those who cannot have genetically-related kids of their own, but also those who want to have additional kids (and perhaps cannot easily have more genetically-related kids), those who have serious genetic conditions they don’t want to pass on and cannot avoid (or afford to avoid) using tech, and those who simply want to provide a loving home to a child or children whose birth parents don’t feel they can provide their child with what they deserve.

It’s a beautiful thing to welcome a child into a family, whether or not they’re genetically related, and having genetically-related kids is far from the only way parents can pass on their cultures and promote their values among a new generation.

What is your position on LGBT families?

We take seriously and understand the unique cultural and biological challenges faced by LGBT parents. We ardently support the rights of LGBT parents to conceive through reproductive technologies, donors, and surrogacy, as well as their right to adopt; appropriately. We are actively cultivating partnerships with community leaders in LGBT healthcare and family advocacy.

What about environmentalism?

Pronatalist advocacy often raises the ire of those who claim to care about the environment, as it is commonly held that adding more humans to the world is bad for the planet. While this is correct in the short term, in the long term, a very different picture arises.

Over the long term, there is no single thing a person who cares about the environment can do that will hurt the environment more than not having kids at or above replacement rate (i.e., more than two). It would be the height of hypocrisy for a person to deride those who ignore near consensus among climate researchers while simultaneously ignoring near consensus among geneticists.

What are we talking about? See: “Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Twin Analyses of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Democracies and Genome-Wide Findings from Three Populations,” “On the genetic basis of political orientation,” or just the Wikipedia article on the subject. That a person's political ideology and much of their sociological profile has a heritable component is a replicated finding backed by huge data sets. We, of course, acknowledge that some debate exists around this research—just as there is some debate in climate science. That said, this debate is mostly over the amount of correlation within a narrow range, not whether there is any correlation at all.

In other words, if you selectively prevent one sociological profile from having kids, you will see less of that profile in future generations. Those removing themselves from the gene pool out of concern for the environment are dramatically lowering the prevalence of the sort of psychological profile that cares about the environment (and a wealth of other prosocial traits).

It’s as if caring for the environment were a fatal, genetically linked illness being systematically eradicated from the population. In a study we ran on this issue, we found individuals in the U.S. who strongly believed global warming was real and caused by humans had about half as many children on average as those who were strongly in the opposite camp (0.8 to 1.6). It is a tragedy that anthropogenic climate change will lead to the deaths of millions of people and much of the earth’s biome, but a world in which every human who has an instinct to care about the environment removes themselves from the gene pool might be worse.

What we find uniquely frustrating about the apparent self-extinction of environmentally-minded people is that it may not even make that much of an environmental impact to forgo parenthood in the years and generations to come. By some estimates, “If the United States reaches its climate goals—that is, cutting emissions in half by 2030 and to zero by 2050—the picture looks even more different. In that case, a child born today would have a carbon footprint averaged over their lives of around 2.8 tons per year, not far from a current resident of Brazil. Under that scenario, having one fewer child starts to look on a par with living car-free or skipping a transatlantic flight—significant, but not even the most important individual action one can take.”

It’s not as though we are the first life form on Earth to cause a mass extinction. Consider the Great Oxidation Event, when the first cyanobacteria produced so much oxygen as a waste product that the atmosphere was filled with (what was then) a toxic, polluting gas (oxygen) that killed almost everything on Earth. Also, consider that had this event been prevented by some sort of environmentalist cyanobacteria with the goal of preventing “oxygen pollution,” complicated, eukaryotic, multicellular organisms that utilize oxygen-based cellular respiration would never have evolved. Not a single animal (no birds, no fish, no amphibians, and no mammals) would exist due to the low energy efficiency of the previously dominant anaerobic respiration.

While we don’t see mass extinction as a good thing, we want to put it in context when a common solution advocated involves nudging our own species toward civilizational collapse and eventual extinction. We see these outcomes as a real risk if every adult who cares about others (or tragedy of the commons issues more generally) chooses to surgically remove their sociological profile from the gene pool.

If we do nothing to fix society, humans will eventually go extinct (or devolve civilizationally and become locked on Earth). Should either of these scenarios come to pass, we lose the only hope life on Earth has of seeding biomes equally as rich as our own on other planets (unless Earth harbors some yet-undiscovered species capable of space-faring).

Instead of multiplying Earth’s biodiversity thousands of times over throughout the galaxy, we would see all life go extinct as Earth is eventually swallowed by an expanding sun. (Of course, this assumes aliens are not out there. For now, we think this assumption is necessary in order to stay on the safe side due to the Fermi paradox, which implies something is wrong with our model of how easy it is for life to start.)

If you care about the environment, having kids makes things worse in the short term but strictly better in the long term. If environmentalists have kids at dramatically lower rates, environmentalism as a movement will shrink dramatically over time. Moreover, having kids increases the odds that human civilization will endure until we become a multi-planet species, which reduces the risk that humans go extinct and life on Earth becomes a “dead man walking” in the face of an expanding sun.

Finally, we are by no means advocating for an ever-ballooning human population on Earth. We have no problem with population levels easing down somewhat. What we do object to is the functional genocide of diverse cultural and ethnic groups leading to cultural and genetic monocultures. We already accept that demographic collapse is inevitable; all we hope for now is a soft landing with minimal damage to diversity and human rights.

We may not agree with most self-identified environmentalists on many things, but removing their instincts from the gene pool entirely doesn’t bode well for our descendants’ future.

Note: The deglobalization instigated by population collapse might also have a fairly severe effect on the environment.

Can demographic collapse be fixed by improving the economic conditions of the average citizen?

Outside of people scolding us for hurting the environment through our pronatalist advocacy, the most common criticism we get is that decreasing birth rates are an economic problem. Many argue that if governments were to offer more child care, or if housing were less expensive, etc., the problem would resolve itself.

We wish this were true, as such would make the problem much easier to fix. However, the data on this subject is overwhelming: Higher income levels are associated with lower birth rates (while there is a U-shaped curve in which individuals start to have more kids at extreme levels of wealth, this curve does not bring families above repopulation rate again until they earn over $500,000 to $1M USD annually, making it unrealistic to resolve this problem with financial subsidies). Birth rates decrease as wealth increases between and within regions. To put it simply, poor groups within a country have more kids than rich groups, and poor countries, on average, have higher birth rates than rich countries.

Moreover, while government-funded childcare has been shown to increase birth rates by a few percentage points, the effect is trivial when contrasted with the size of the problem. While we enthusiastically support initiatives like government-sponsored child care and affordable housing, those initiatives are totally unmoored from any realistic solution to the declining birth rate problem. Hungary, which spent 5% of its total GDP trying to increase its birth rate only to see almost no rise in fertility, illustrates the limited effect of such programs (a similar program in Poland had almost no impact as well).

Perhaps one cause driving highly-educated individuals to have fewer kids is that said individuals want their kids to be able to live lives similar to theirs. For all but the most insanely wealthy, it is not financially viable to pay for good college and high school education for more than two kids.

We, personally, want to have many children (as many as biologically and logistically feasible) and that means almost no matter how much money we have, paying for our kids’ college will be a non-starter. This issue motivated us to create the Collins Institute (CollinsInstitute.org), which aims to dramatically lower the cost of high-caliber secondary education and provide routes to top-level career tracks that do not require college. When we see a problem that remains to be addressed, we do what we can to fix it.