[LMB] General rules for Governments

Ruchira Mathur wetair at gmail.com
Sun Jun 20 01:12:18 BST 2021

Barrayar would have had high birth rates, yeah, but high infant mortality
too because of the environment and the infanticide of anyone born with
visible mutations. So possibly in the end not much difference ...

On Sat, Jun 19, 2021, 7:20 PM Beatrice Otter via Lois-Bujold <
lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote:

> ---- On Sat, 19 Jun 2021 15:22:38 -0700 Pouncer via Lois-Bujold <mailto:
> lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote ----
>  In canon, the Beta Colony Population Control Board deals
> with the "Average" family of 2-point-something offspring
> by awarding some individuals a "third child variance".  Each
> adult citizen is entitled and expected to be progenitor to
> one child.  And the PCB insists on each progenitor identifying
> a "Co-Parent".  So a population unit to the PCB is a
> statistical concept with two certified/qualified adults
> and two-point-something minor-children (required to be
> educated, socialized, etc.)  First problem: maybe an
> original co-parent feels it's unfair to be asked to assist
> in raising a partner's "awarded third" child.  *You helped
> with mine, I helped with your first, but I'm NOT on the
> hook for your second!*  Next what happens when three or
> four adults decide to form a home and enjoy having one
> to two kids around -- leaving the PCB and Betan society
> two kids short? Then we have the Dubaurer situation:
> he's been mentally disabled due to nerve disrputor, BUT
> he has great genes, still hale family members, and retains
> his constitutional right to one genetic decendent. Now the
> PCB has to find or approve two co-parents-by-proxy for
> the one progenitor...   The Betan government has taken upon
> itself a HUGE administrative task (and commensurate tax
> burden)  that most cultures can safely leave to individuals
> to work out for themselves, for free.  (Or for the
> cost of mere heartache -- which cost Betans, like
> Cordelia, are not spared even with the PCB in overwatch.)
> Beatrice Otter:
> That bit of worldbuilding (and all of the demographic assumptions
> underlying the various cultures) is, imho, the second-most-dated bit of
> worldbuilding in the Vorkosiverse. (The first is, obviously, the lack of
> cell phones and internet.)
> Like all SF/F based on the idea that the population naturally always
> increases and the problem is limiting childbirth to what is sustainable, it
> has aged ... poorly. I mean, I don't blame anyone for thinking that, in the
> 80s and 90s; the shift in baby trends weren't yet pronounced, and was only
> really showing in a few places. There wasn't enough data yet to realize
> that "women controlling their own fertility" + "women with access to
> education and career opportunities that don't revolve around motherhood" =
> "sharp drop in the average number of babies born per woman". And this is
> one of the few things that transcends culture; it's true regardless of
> race, religion, ethnicity, class, you name it. Which is why most European
> nations are working hard to encourage women to have children, and creating
> various incentives to encourage them to do so (long parental leaves with
> guaranteed getting your job back at the end, state-subsidized quality
> childcare, etc., etc.,).
> Barrayar, given what we know of the culture (heavily patriarchal, women
> with few rights and economic opportunities) would have historically had
> high birth rates ... but I bet they've begun to fall, in the last
> generation or so.
> Beta, on the other hand ... even with their longer lifespans, the
> demographic problem they would realistically be facing would be "how do we
> keep the birth rate high enough to maintain itself" rather than "how do we
> keep our population from growing too much/too fast?"
> Beatrice Otter
> --
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