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Colony Universe

Population Dynamics

by EAB

Population Demographics: Primary edit. H.Parker

An inspection of the “Forming a Civilization” simulation shows the key parameter leading to colony survival was always the reproductive rate. With the result of all disaster scenarios, independent of this variable, leading to higher death rates, fractional percentage changes, over time of the reproductive rate lead to large differences in survivability.

By the end of the 20th century, virtually all economically advanced countries were in a state of population decline. Some 50 years later, at mid century, it appears that the total population of Earth may have peaked at 17 billion . Due as much to UNWG policy as economic status and resource depletion, a gradual decline is expected.

On Alchibah with a small initial population base it seems imperative that a high reproductive rate be maintained in order to enhance the colonies survivability. A contrarian position would be: “Population growth, who cares? Won’t matter a bit after I’m gone.” This is a fine philosophical point but seems emotionally unsatisfying. With the aforementioned in mind, what factors in our new society might lead to high population growth?

With the state of medical care in an advanced Western nation on Earth the rule of thumb number was that each woman must bear 2.1 children in order to maintain population stability. Knowing this number was not being maintained a few plausible reasons might have been.

1. We no longer need large families in order to maintain us in old age.

2. The availability of birth control made accidental or unwanted pregnancies avoidable.

3. The world population was already too large and we should bring it down.

4. Cultural changes such as, divorce rate increase, woman’s financial independence, longer time spent in education and hence later marriage age leading to a delayed age of first born, and others.

5. The somewhat heretical notion that when given a choice we really don’t like children as much as the popular norms would suggest.

6. The religious commandment to be fruitful and multiply is no longer an important factor in procreation decisions.

Whatever the reasons, if we are to make a lasting civilization on Alchibah, population growth must exceed the mortality rate.

The rapid population growth evidenced by the Polynesian Islanders as they expanded throughout the Pacific indicate that in a relatively favorable environment a growth rate of 3% per year was the norm. See Easter Island a Retrospective. Starting with 100 people you end up with 2000 after 100 years. It seems likely that if deaths due to new disease forms, accidents, new life forms, and especially should inter colony strife become the norm, an even higher reproductive rate would be desirable. This does not even take into account the chance of war with forces of the UNWG sent to subdue us. What rate of growth is best? If we wish to form a society which survives the higher the better. Starting from such a small number there seems to be no alternative.

Factors which might lead to rapid population growth include.

1. A deliberate decision by women, and men, to have more children due to concerns about maintaining our society.

2. Medical interventions increasing fertility and providing for more multiple births.

3. Medical intervention increasing the proportion of female births.

4. Rewards for having children.

5. Artificial means such as using the incubators we intend for raising our farm animals to grow instead humans.

6. Additional immigration from Earth.

7. A religious revival.

Without using immigration, or artificial incubation as means for increase, what would a 3% growth rate for the next 20 years mean in terms of our current colony group? Until complete medical profiles are constructed an inspection of the colonist lists shows 80 women on board, 20 of whom are either beyond child bearing age or within several years of that point. There are 33 children aboard 18 of them females below the age of reproduction. This leaves 42 women some of whom can not or will not chose to have children. Medical technology should rule out most of the can’t factor and so to simplify let us set the initial number of fertile women at 40. Using a fertility age lifetime of 25 years and with the age spread in our sample group the average number of women of child bearing age for the next 20 years should remain relatively constant if mortality rates remain low in this group.

In order to improve ease of calculation the basic assumption for mean life expectancy will be 80 years. As a population we are shifted about 7 years towards the younger end of the spectrum. Over time this will balance out. If 2 people die every year for the next 20 years each woman in the fertile group must have I child so that our population remains stable. This is only in the short term however because of the 40 children conceived only half, 20, will be female and that number will be insufficient to maintain population during the next generational cycle. Thus we arrive at the 2 children per woman figure plus a bit just to maintain stability.

In order to reach a 3% growth rate, which would give the colony a population just over 300 in 20 years time, the number of births must be about 4 per woman of child bearing age and this assumes no deaths in that. population. This seems so unlikely that another solution to the population problem must be found..

Birth by Tube Raised by Robot:

Onboard the Mayflower are a dozen incubation chambers large enough to bring a human fetus to gestation. Using nine of them for that purpose would insure another 12 children added to the colony every year. Caring for the newborns would be time well spent in terms of insuring survivability. 120 children in addition to the 20 or so we would expect naturally in the first ten years of the colony’s existence would probably require robots to be dedicated to the task of assisting the nominal parents. More than just help the mothers or families involved to raise them the use of robots would free up time to devote to other areas those involved were expert in. After that first group reached adulthood though, the benefits to the colony would far outweigh the trouble involved due to time spent on their care. If mortality rates are high, as they are likely to be, these children could be the only hope for the colony to survive.

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