Is there a demographic collapse coming? What could or should be done about it? Is there any connection with Bitcoiner culture? Malcolm Collins has a background in VC and Private Equity, and he is a co founder of The Pronatalist Foundation. He has spent a lot of time speaking about this problem and has some great insights to share:
- Population Projections
- The Urban Monoculture
- Pronatalist aims
- Childless demographics
- What caused this?
- What governments have tried
- Where Bitcoiner culture could change this
- How to motivate a large family
Malcolm’s links mentioned:
Stephan Livera links:
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Stephan Livera podcast, a show about Bitcoin and Austrian economics brought to you by swan.com. Today, we’re talking about natalism, demographic collapse, population collapse. And my guest today is Malcolm Collins. He comes from the world of venture capital. He operates travelmax.com, but I think in this context, we’re talking more about the, you know, he’s done a lot of thinking and writing and speaking about this concept of natalism. He’s the co-founder of pronatalist.org, a pronatalist foundation. Malcolm, welcome to the show.
Malcolm Collins (00:30.877)
I am excited to be here and the pro-natalist organization, or at least the biggest and oldest right now, we’re really trying to wake up the world to the scope of this problem. And I think the extent to which it’s been hidden from people or there is not interest in talking about it, I think sort of belays some of the negative incentives within the power structure of our society right now.
So let’s talk a little bit about how you got interested in this and where this is coming from. I think that’s probably a good spot to start, right?
Malcolm Collins (01:08.289)
Yeah, yeah, that’s always a good place to start on this. And then we can go into crazier stuff. But I first started caring about this when I was a director of strategy at an early stage venture capital firm in South Korea. And I was asked, as you are as a director of strategy at an early stage VZ phone, where’s the economy gonna be in 50 years? Where’s the economy gonna be at 100 years? Well, and it wasn’t this bad back then, but I could see where things were going. If you look at the current Korean fertility rate, which is something like 0.78 or 0.77.
That means that for every 100 Koreans alive today, even if it doesn’t continue to decline, and it has been declining rapidly every year, for every 100 Koreans alive today, there will be around six great grandchildren. You know, you are looking at a 94% population collapse. The way no economy can survive that. If you look at the U.S. right now and you project forwards the level of fertility decline that we had from 2010 to 2020, and you assume that we have one generation
every 30 years. That means for every hundred Americans alive today, there will be 4.3 great grandchildren. I ran this in the UK recently because I was doing work out there. For every hundred people in the UK, if you assume that from 2010 to 2020, we see the same level of decline, these were statistics that came from Oxford, not me projecting them forwards because nobody else likes to project them forwards. What that would show is for every hundred people in the UK, you’d have 1.8 great grandchildren. The way that the world economy
works doesn’t function when you have that level of population collapse. And people in the US, you know, you bring this up and they go, oh, why can’t we just solve this with immigration? And then you point out to them, did you not know that by the UN’s own statistics all the way back in 2019, all of Latin America collectively, so Central America, South America and the Caribbean fell below repopulation rate. We are a farmer irrigating our pond.
or our crops with an evaporating pot, you know, and you point this out and he goes, not my problem, not on my property. And it’s like, well, it is a problem because your entire economic system is based on you. This pond existing. And it is also drawing up because of your unsustainable water management practices, or I would say unsustainable population management practices. Now, where this matters economically. And let’s talk about this through the eyes, I think, of
Malcolm Collins (03:31.513)
Bitcoin to me, Bitcoin is a marvelous asset because it is the first time in human history. We have had any asset class that was divisible, easily tradable and that had a known quantity. No other asset has I ever, ever had those three quantity qualities. You could say like a gold was close, but we didn’t know the quality quantity of gold like right, you know.
But why did those three qualities make an asset valuable historically? It was because historically we were dealing with a truism in the world, which is that the number of consumers was growing exponentially. And that’s been the case for pretty much all of human history until today. Now, if you have a number of consumers growing exponentially, any asset with a fixed quantity, whether it is…
real estate or Bitcoin is going to increase in value so long as it has utility to the population. If the population is declining exponentially, which is the world that we are about to go into, a lot of what we think we understand about economics begins to transform really radically. But even more so than that, what it means to live in a country transforms radically. So your audience.
They’re likely familiar with things like debt and how debt works, right? Debt’s a miraculous thing when something is growing on average. I’m sure we got a lot of leverage traders here. And if you know that on average an economy is going to grow, debt makes a lot of sense. If I’m making a $10 investment and $8 of that is debt and $2 is equity and it grows by just 20%, I’ve doubled my equity investment. But if it shrinks by just 10%, I’ve lost half my equity investment. Well, we as a society have leveraged…
our human potential, you know, our students, we have leveraged our land, we have leveraged our companies, we have leveraged our town municipalities, our cities, our states, our nation states, all of it created an artificial feeling of wealth during this period of constant growth, but it will create a massive and simultaneous global crunch if things and when things begin to shrink on average, which is almost inevitable at this point.
Malcolm Collins (05:46.485)
Unless AI begins to replace population. But if AI replaces population, then you have the secondary problem, which we always talk about, which is AI is the tool that allows the, that finally frees the bourgeoisie from the proletariat. They don’t need the average people anymore. When
value and assets have gone to the people historically. You know, you had the Magna Carta after the Black Death, which artificially increased the value of the lower classes to the upper classes. You had Athens, their democracy came when the upper classes had these huge trade works. They needed triremes, which required large amounts of unpaid labor to move. And so they now needed the lower classes and they moved into democracy. If we’re moving into a context where the wealthy
need the poor less and less, you are going to have a similar economic condition for most of the world’s population as if we were dealing with a worldwide economic collapse, even if that’s not what’s happening at the top of the board. And I believe we’re already beginning to see this, but okay, let’s flow into I don’t want to ramble the whole time.
Yeah, sure. Well, let me just make two points. I think I so Let me put it this way. There’s a lot of things we probably agree on in terms of I’m Pro natalism myself. I have you know a wife and a son and we hope to have more children So on that part we I think we agree I think for me one area where I kind of sort of disagree a little bit is around the way the debt system works today, right like as a Bitcoin or I’m sort of more about this kind of
Malcolm Collins (06:59.728)
limited supply and full reserve banking as an idea, as opposed to where we have fiat and fraction reserve. And I view that as part of the problem that we’ve sort of, we’ve extended, we’ve overextended ourselves. And now I agree with you, there’s this leverage effect. And I agree with you that is why we’ve ended up where we are today, where, you know, everybody’s up to their eyeballs in debt. And you know, I think that I view that as an unsustainable thing. But I think we can get to that part later. I’m curious to get into this area with you as well, because we’re focusing on
demographics, natalism and things like this, as I understand, and you tell me where I’m getting this wrong because you’ve researched this more than I have, but my understanding is world population today is about 8 billion people. It’s going to peak maybe around 10 billion around 2050, 2060 around there. And then after that, it’s going to start dropping. And as you said, there are a lot of countries where as people get richer, they stop having babies or as many babies.
there’s this idea that you mentioned that people are having low fertility rates domestically so that they, they sort of try to solve the problem in their mind by just having lots of immigration. But as you said, that’s going to tap out eventually, because even, you know, countries in Africa, they’re, with their high fertility rates, they’re dropping as well over time. So I’m curious, do you sort of, is that a broad sketch that you agree with?
Malcolm Collins (08:38.777)
No, I mean, I agree. Obviously it was stupid of us to set up our entire global economy this way. You are accurate in assessing the stupidity of the building or the ship we all find ourselves on. But we are all on this ship right now. And one person pointing out, well, I wouldn’t have built it this way before this storm hit.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t now need to know we can say, I mean, what we’re doing, I think, with Bitcoin is building a new ship next to our ship before it sinks. OK, great. If we can get there in time, the I think the problem is, is that as you say, it is unsustainable and it is not a small thing.
to point out that the foundation of the entire global economy, not like the West, like people are like, Oh, you think the West is going to collapse? I’m like, no, like China, Japan, Korea, they are in just as much of a shitter as everyone else is. Um, that we are going to deal with a global systems collapse. And I think that we can say, okay, well, what do we build next? And I like that, you know, I like what you’re looking at there. And when I look at the pernatalist movement,
People are like, oh, so you’re trying to get fertility rates up. And I’m like, no, it is too late. We are not about stopping the Titanic from hitting the iceberg. We are about getting as many lifeboats ready as possible and begin to think about how we build whatever comes next so that the next time something like this happens, we don’t like we can have a permanent Renaissance. We don’t have to keep having the civilizational cycle of Renaissance, dark age, Renaissance, dark age.
And I think that requires intentionally constructing things that way as we move into it. One of the things that’s worth talking about here is the core problem isn’t even all the debt. Like we can talk about the debt or something like that. The core problem is that our society is increasingly controlled by a memetic virus, basically, that is not that once it infects an organization or governing entity, it directs its aims.
Malcolm Collins (10:47.029)
Generally, towards something I think most people would see as altruistic, which is lowering the suffering of everyone within the organization. However, it does so in such a sort of blind way that it leads to really inefficient governing decisions being made to the extent where all of the infected organizations and governments are just really not optimized around efficiency anymore. Which, you know, anyone who cares about the economy knows when something’s not optimized around efficiency, it can…
go really, really far and cause a lot of pain before anyone can stop it. In regards to fertility rates, right now what a lot of people don’t realize is they think that this is a developed world’s problem and it’s really not. Any country where the average citizen is earning over 5,000 USD per year is on average gonna be below a repopulation rate. And there’s only a very few exceptions to this. And yeah, and some people are like, yeah, well, there are some places in the world where
population still increasing. And it’s like, yeah, but if we’re talking about this from an economic condition, right? Like I’m not saying have kids for economic reasons, but I’m saying be aware of, by the time you realize how severe this problem is, we’re also gonna be dealing with an economic shit show. Be aware that it doesn’t matter that places that aren’t relevant to the global economy have a high fertility rate when, because that’s what’s driving the high fertility rate is low income.
If all of the places that are the economically productive places that make up the world’s economy right now are the ones that are hemorrhaging population, workflow, talent, etc. So, yeah, sorry, anywhere you want to pull there or go from there.
Okay, so, yeah, so let’s talk a little bit about this because some people might, you know, I’m not saying, as I said, I’m more into the natal scan myself, but there might be people who just say, well, let’s just have a smaller population. Let’s just have technology do the work for us. Why would that be wrong? Why would that be a problem?
Malcolm Collins (12:42.573)
It wouldn’t be wrong if that was the direction we were heading. I mean, I think that we would want to need to like that. So if we look at what our organization is fighting for, we are not fighting for a larger world population. We are fighting for one, ensuring that governments like recognize this problem and the scope of the problem and begin to build plans around it. Because right now, they just aren’t they just aren’t.
Like you can look at Korea where I was mentioning how bad the problem is right now. 60 percent of the Korean population is over the age of 40 right now. So they likely can’t even solve the problem. What’s like one of the major social movements in the country right now? The Four Nose Movement, which is women saying like no sex, no dating, no marriage, no kids. It’s like what like this is so incongruent with the scale of the situation they’re dealing with. So but to lowering the world’s population.
I really don’t care when we’re the other. What I can say is what’s going to happen if we don’t engage? Like, so suppose the pro-natalist movement completely failed. World absent the pro-natalist movement, what happens? What happens is, is the dominant group in our society right now increasingly, because it is this urban monoculture that exists sort of across countries in the world today, it becomes increasingly desperate for new members because, you know, telling people, like I was calling it the virus before, it tells people if you join us, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
and be validated for whoever you want to identify as. And it turns out when you just say, like, do whatever you want whenever you want, this isn’t good at motivating people to sacrifice. So people in this movement have very low fertility rates. And so the only way it can sustain itself is through the conversion of children of nearby demographically healthy cultural groups in the developed world. Those groups are usually religious extremist communities.
In fact, in pretty much all of the world, those groups are religious extremist communities. So that means first, which you would have if we weren’t around, we’re hoping to prevent this from happening, you first have conflict between this one group that needs another group’s kids and a group that is getting increasingly angry that they feel like their kids are being brainwashed basically from their perspective, taken from them and brought into a new cultural group that has no ties to their traditions and memetically sterilized and castrated basically.
Malcolm Collins (15:00.109)
Okay, so that happens, that’s obviously causing a level of tension there. Um, and then that leads to conflict, potentially like literal conflict, or at least within the political context. But then eventually, and we’ve seen this intergenerationally, the groups that the, uh, somatic virus needs to, to pilfer for its children to maintain itself at the same population levels, um, are getting intergenerationally resistant to it.
This is just cultural evolution. It might have a little bit of genetic evolution as well, but it’s mostly cultural evolution where the iterations of those cultures that are better at keeping their kids from deconverted have more kids stay in it and then grow. Right. I think it’s just evolution happening at the cultural level. What this means is that the urban monoculture is eventually going to die out. I am annoyed with the urban monoculture right now. I think it’s inefficient. You know, I might call it a mimetic virus, but I do think that it is probably better than what’s going to end up replacing it.
which is forms of xenophobic religious extremism. And the reason I say that is if you look at fertility rates right now at a cultural level, this is assuming the pro-natalist movement wasn’t here and we’ll get to what the pro-natalist movement is doing in a second. If you look at the two highest fertility cultural strategies right now, one is to do things which lower the economic potential of members of your group.
Like Jehovah’s Witnesses not having their kids go to college would be a good example of this because within and between countries the lower your income is the higher number of kids you’re gonna have. Now there’s other reasons to do this because obviously from their perspective college is brainwashing their kids and stuff like that. And it is kind of, I mean it’s not a crazy thing to think. Or groups will disengage with technology. Amish are probably the best example here but you see this across cultural groups. The more a cultural group disengages with technology the higher its fertility rate will be. Well the problem with these two strategies…
which often combine with some level of xenophobia and out-group hatred for a lot of groups that do these, is that they work more the more you do them. And the softer versions of these traditions are typically the ones doing them in a moderated context. Meaning that you can’t just say as a cultural group, we are going to slightly disengage with technology, because the iterations of your cultural group that more strongly disengage with technology will out-compete the group that lightly disengage with technology.
Malcolm Collins (17:16.729)
and that group that lightly disengages technology will either be converted back into a mostly sterile urban monoculture or be converted into the more extreme versions of that movement. Now what this means is that the future of humanity as it was going would be not that populations would crash, we’re actually gonna have a population explosion again. It’s just that it’ll be a population that is dramatically less culturally and ethnically diverse than the world’s existing population.
mostly making up religious extremists from all sex. Every religious group, whether it’s Christians or Muslims or Jews or even Buddhists, has a murderous extremist version of their movement that is outbreeding the mainstream iteration of their movement. That’s just true largely across the board. So this isn’t like a against one religious group thing. However, what the pro-natalist movement is trying to do is build a cultural alliance among all of the groups.
that are, and we don’t say you have to be technophilic, but we are a safe haven for many technophilic individuals who are pronatalists, or family units that are pronatalists, or small cultures that are pronatalists. You don’t have to be to join. The only thing that you really have to do is be okay with a world in which people who are not like you also exist.
And if you are like that, and if you are pro-natalist, you’re going to have many of the same issues that we can use intercultural technology to help with, like the school system we’re building to replace public school that doesn’t try to erase an individual’s cultures. That’s as useful to, you know, Orthodox Jewish populations as it is to Orthodox Hindi populations as it is to us, who are secular, Calvinist, like weird family. So…
but also like marriage markets. I mean, everyone can see that the existing dating markets have sort of failed us. And so that’s what the movement really represents is an intercultural alliance where right now our biggest enemy is this sort of monocultural unit. But the next enemy is going to be an exploding world population of multiple religious extremist groups, all which believe that nobody who is different from them can be allowed to live on the planet.
Right, okay, so you’ve spelled out a little bit around the aims of the, you know, the pro-natalist side. I’m also curious to get your take, I believe there’s a gentleman named Stephen Shaw, he wrote, he did a movie and he was talking about this idea saying, looking at the demographics that he was looking at, it seems that the groups of people who are having children, you know, they still exist, but it’s actually more that the number of totally childless, like that demographic has just
Malcolm Collins (19:30.862)
grown dramatically in recent decades. I’m curious, do you have the same take on that or do you have a different take there?
Malcolm Collins (19:56.505)
Yeah. So we don’t really care about those people. Yeah. So there was a great study done recently on Swedish, Swedish populations over like 100 years, and it argued that if you want your descendants to survive in the future with a high degree of reliability, the replacement rate is actually five point one and not two point one. The point being is that people from low fertility families are often low fertility themselves.
So if I find somebody who’s like, they come to me and they go, oh, I’m an environmentalist and I’m not gonna have kids. And what do you think about that? And I’m like, well, then people who think like, you won’t exist in the future. What was it? Something like they were talking about, like only a few movements in the world say, I am going to out-compete my competitors by having fewer descendants than them.
It’s like if I convince somebody who doesn’t want to have a kid right now to have a kid, right? Somebody who is planning to have one kid or zero kids. Those kids are likely going to have one or zero kids. If I help somebody who has four kids but wants to have eight kids have eight kids, you know, those kids are all likely to have like six or seven kids themselves. There really isn’t that much of a point in doing much to assist low fertility families. Like, I hate to say this, but those cultural groups are largely lost already.
And it’s just not worse at the time. And I talk about this like in a civilizational context. You know, if you’re looking at your cultural group, however you define that, and you like suppose you’re like a millennial and like a third of your friends because that’s who your cultural group is. A third of your friends are not having a kid. A third of your friends have two kids or planning to have two kids. The final third for your population to stay stable will have to have over four kids. That’s just not something anyone who is, quote unquote, normal, like within.
culture today does. Like you have to be kind of a weird deviant to do that. And that’s why it’s these deviant cultural groups that are motivating intergenerational fertility and that really matter in the future. What we would love to do as a movement is encourage some low fertility groups to create high fertility iterations of their culture. But that likely will involve some cultural experimentation. I mean, that’s why we wrote the book The Pragmatist Guide to Crafting Religion, which is basically saying
Malcolm Collins (22:12.393)
You know, if you look around the world today, a lot of people and a lot of groups have not been able to resist this, this memetic virus. Right. Or even the cause of capitalism. And I’m a capitalist myself, but I will say that capitalism is very good at differentially paying somebody the minimum price they’ll accept to not spend time on things that matter intergenerationally and things that matter to in the moment for productivity. It’s just not very good at pricing in intergenerational benefit to itself. And so.
you know, is paying the most competent individuals in our society to not spend time with their families and not have kids, basically. And that’s another reason we’re seeing this. But anyway, the point here being is that we would love for people to create cultures that are intergenerationally high fertility, but we don’t really benefit from convincing any individual to. And in the future, it’s going to get harder. Like, it’s not about protecting people right now. If a group or an individual cannot survive.
the polls right now to have no kids, they’re definitely, their kids are definitely not gonna be able to survive. When I say survive, I mean encourage fertility in a world where they can date AI models that are like perfect girlfriends or husbands and never do wrong by them and look beautiful and have no conflict. You know, there really isn’t any point in coddling weaker cultural groups right now because.
We are in easy mode at the moment. We are at the tutorial stage of the crisis we are about to face.
Right. And you mentioned this idea that, for example, for certain countries, it may start to become to be getting really late and really even harder because they’ve got themselves into a position where their average age of the population is so high. That there’s maybe not enough. And maybe this is South Korea. Maybe this is Japan that there’s maybe not enough young people to keep the thing going. And maybe it’s also a cultural point. And maybe that’s something we can get into as well.
I’m curious if you have any thoughts on why this is happening from a cultural perspective. Is it the sexual revolution? Is it the birth control pill? Is it a combination of these aspects? I think there’s also an element of fiat, fractional reserve banking, and some of these aspects that cause people to become impatient or high time preference. I believe that this is part of what Bitcoin will fix is that we can have a…
Malcolm Collins (24:32.764)
a society that is lower time preference and thinks more about multi-generational impacts. I’m curious your thoughts.
Malcolm Collins (24:43.577)
Yeah, what caused this? What caused this was, I mean, I’d say it’s almost blindingly obvious. It’s that historically speaking, if you go like three or four generations ago, every kid the average family had across most of the world increased the family’s income. That was another kid you could send to a factory, that was another pair of hands on the farm. And now every kid you have decreases your quality of life. So to some extent, I mean, above number two, at least.
Right. Like maybe one or two kids helps. But to have a stable population, you need lots of people having five or six kids. And there’s just on the margin, no reason to really do that in our society, unless you have some exogenous motivation, i.e. a religious or ideological motivation, which is why those communities are doing so well right now. That’s really the key answer. I mean, there’s the memetic virus is one thing that’s causing this. Capitalism, differentially pricing people’s time. That’s another thing that’s causing this.
There’s some things that aren’t causing this. It’s not cost. A lot of people are like, it’s too expensive to have kids. And I was like, if that’s true, then it wouldn’t be true between and within countries. The less money you have, the more kids you have. What people mean when they say that is they have been conditioned to not be okay with sacrifice. And having kids requires sacrificing your existing lifestyle. I have to live at a lower socioeconomic level than I would be capable of if I had no kids.
What a lot of people mean when they say that is they are not willing to live like somebody who is significantly poorer than themselves. And that requires some like ideological motivation to do. Now this is the ideological motivation and I will provide it. We live in a cool world today where, you know, I have eight kids and they have eight kids and we do that for just 11 generations. I have more descendants than there are humans in the world today. I don’t need to convince everyone to get on the pro-natalist movement, right? I just need to convince a wide diversity of people. I’ve got my family covered. I got people like me covered. I need to get other…
other people on board to preserve something like our current pluralistic society into the future. And I was going to say that one thing we need to keep in mind, you know, if we think about this from the perspective of Bitcoin and where the global economy is going, this is something I’ve been speaking more on recently on our podcast Based Camp, is what collapse is going to look like, like what the collapse of our existing economic system is going to look like. Because I think a
Malcolm Collins (27:06.169)
mismodel it. They see it as becoming more like a developed country, which is actually pretty unlikely. It’s going to be significantly worse than that. A better model for where we’re going is going to be what’s going on in South Africa right now. A developed country collapsing is much worse than a developing country. That’s because of the developed country collapses to maintain the infrastructure.
often costs the full amount. So if I’m maintaining a sewer system for 50% of the existing population, that costs as much as maintaining a full sewer system, right? So like power moves out incrementally as the country’s developing, but you look at something like South Africa and you’re having rolling blackouts. Well, that makes a lot of amenities that you take for granted, like restaurants, which often require freezers, no longer really work at scale. A lot of things that you have come to.
relying on no longer really work. One of the most important being internet and network connectivity. Now, what this also means is with the low economically productive and technophobic cultural groups being the highest fertility rate, when we sort of try to predict where the global economy is going, our assumption is that we are going to have small sort of havens that we call them, which are closed communities. You begin to see this already in South Africa
I guess I would call them fortress neighborhoods where you have groups of high economic productivity, technophilic populations that have essentially walled themselves off from the world, but are connected through caravans and through. And when I say caravans, again, people think I mean like road warrior. I mean like the way goods are transported right now in South Africa to other economically productive havens. And this is
the world that the new economic system we are building is important for because it is a world that is going to be much more stateless than our existing world, or at least where states and nation states have much less power than local, cultural, and likely even organized crime institutions.
Yeah, really interesting points you’re making there. Like you, you’re like, as you mentioned around the cost factor, that’s a very common thing. People say, oh, I can’t afford to have children or it’s a common line where people say, I’m going to delay having children or getting married and having children because I can’t afford it right now. But the reality of it also is, as you said, it’s about making sacrifices. And I think, uh, that’s another element. I think it’s also fair to say that society today, maybe it’s not as supportive of having children, right? It’s just such an easy thing to.
You know, if you’re traveling, maybe it’s kind of a, it’s a lot more of a pain when you’re bringing children along. I’ll give another example. There is, people talk about car seat regulations, right? So in certain countries, there’s rules that require a car seat. And it just kind of creates a lot more logistical issues if you want to live normal life, having a larger family.
Malcolm Collins (30:06.905)
Yeah, one of our friends, V. Valkowitz, wrote a really good piece on car seat regulations and their statistical effect on fertility rates and whether or not they’re actually as necessary as we pretend they are. So that’s a really good point. The people in positions of power in our society are mostly of this urban monoculture of sort of this mimetic virus. And because of that, they’re just not familiar with what’s required to raise large families. And so the laws that we are living under are often unrealistic for actually raising kids.
An example of this was we had CPS called on us because our kids were wearing used clothing and were frequently sick. And I’m like, anyone who has a large number of kids, they are frequently sick. That’s toddlers. They’re frequently sick. They eat bugs and touch the floor. And, you know, of course you wear used clothing. They’re toddlers. They grow quickly. Like these are things that would sound comical to any parent. But if you are somebody who is just…
culturally has no idea what it’s like to be around or raise kids, you can begin to put what are often pretty ridiculous expectations and sometimes even legal expectations on the parents near you. And society is going to back that up if it needs those kids to continue to replicate the existing dominant cultural institution. So yeah.
Yeah, another idea is maybe some of it is a cultural thing as well, where maybe historically, if I think back to my grandparents or things like this, this idea that every kid needs their own room, that would have been crazy. But nowadays that seems to be in the Western world. Uh, that seems to be the expectation. So is it also just that the, the expectation has risen so much?
Malcolm Collins (31:45.977)
Yeah, here, I’ll show you. I record countercyclical community assets. This is my office, and there are the kids’ bunk beds built into the wall behind me, all in the same room. A countercyclical asset for somebody who isn’t useful to that is an asset that has different purposes at different times of day, where you’re not going to have overlap. So my kids do not overlap in use of this room with times that I’m recording or doing traditional office work. So I can utilize the asset.
not only as a room for four kids, because there’s another bed over here, but as my office. And it’s, as you’re saying, it’s this level of sort of privilege and indolence that we come to expect from our lifestyle. And we give our kids the full rights of an adult. You know what I mean? We say they need to dress the way that we dress as an adult in our income level. They need to eat. Like I will never understand people who take their kids to restaurants. It is literally insane.
Malcolm Collins (32:44.997)
Your kid don’t appreciate that. That’s expensive. You getting your kid a Coke at a restaurant? That is like a $8 Coke, man. Your kid, one, does not care. Two, probably shouldn’t be drinking Coke in the first place. And what the are you doing? Anyway, sorry.
Right, yeah, so it’s interesting to see that the shift in the culture has been that, you know, and maybe this alliance to what you’re saying about kids on the farm and things like that, where people just have less kids now, but they invest so much more into that kid, where that kid is going to classes for whatever it’s this, that, this class and that class now, you know, of course, it’s great to send your kids to classes if you can, and you can afford it. But the trend seems to have been very, you know.
get married later, have children later, have less kids, invest a lot more into each kid. That seems to be the trend that we, the urban monoculture has pushed us into when maybe these are certain things that we need to reevaluate if we want to be natalist and be encouraging of people having bigger families.
Malcolm Collins (33:45.401)
Yeah, so we don’t like encourage broadly people to have kids, as I’ve said. We encourage people to build new cultures that can sustain having kids. The dominant culture in our society right now is unable to motivate reproductive fertility rates. And there are ways you can build secular cultures. You can modify older religious cultures. There are all sorts of things you can do. But me just telling somebody this is the scope of the problem, go out and have kids, it’s not going to do anything.
Malcolm Collins (34:11.917)
you know, all I can do is either try to protect existing high fertility cultures or create new high fertility cultures. But, you know, countries, there’s this great post that I can send to you, it’s follow up if you want, but it does a line graph of all the studies that looked at cash handouts trying to get people to have kids. And it showed that the likelihood that a study would say cash handouts work basically directly correlates with the size of its margin of error.
And, you know, last year, Hungers had five percent of his GDP trying to get his fertility rate up, and it got it up by like one point six percent. So like a negligible number for the amount that they were spending when in a lot of places like China, you have fertility rates dropping like 10 percent year over year. So yeah, it’s there doesn’t appear to be a lot of ways that you can combat this outside of cultural things. Fortunately, what this means.
is we could go back to the old system. You know, people have kids because they’re economically useful to them. But that system kind of sucked as well. Like, it’s kind of cool that we’re moving into a new system where the cultural groups that will continue to exist are the groups that were able to give their kids a good enough childhood that those kids wanted to replicate that childhood, at least within the pro-natalist alliance. Obviously, the other cultural strategy is to threaten to kill your kids if they ever leave your cultural group.
And that’s becoming an increasingly successful cultural strategy across the world today in various high fertility cultures. So at least within the pro-natalist community, we don’t we don’t take those strategies.
Gotcha. So just, I’m curious if you could spell out, yeah. Could you just spell out for us, what are some of the policies that some governments have tried and failed? So as you mentioned, Hungary had this policy where I believe if a mother had four children or more, she would no longer pay income tax for the rest of her life. What are some other policies that have been tried, and it seems many have failed?
Malcolm Collins (36:00.089)
Like about anything you can imagine has been tried. Not paying as much taxes has been tried. China banning vasectomy clinics has been tried. I would say if somebody really wants an analysis of where this has been done the most with the most government control is Iran. Iran had a terrible fertility collapse. They brought a bunch of like early far lefty like we hate the West types over who they like thought were their allies, right? Who consulted with
the leader of the country, this was like in the 70s or 60s or something. It’s 70s, I think, or it might even be the 80s. Anyway, somewhere like a while ago, right? A number of decades ago. And they were like, oh, yeah, man, like we need to get the world population down. And like everyone in your country will be richer if you can get your population down. So they implemented all of these like woke practices around fertility rates, and it caused an absolute fertility collapse in their country. And what they realized much to their chagrin is that it’s much harder to rise fertility rights.
than it is to lower them. And this is what China is realizing now as well. It’s actually fairly easy to collapse fertility rates within a country. It is very hard to get them back up once that has been done. And so Iran has tried literally everything. And about the only things that seem to persistently work is restricting women’s access to education, not getting great, or restricting women’s freedom. Again, not great.
But those do seem to increase fertility. If you look around the world where you have seen the only really persistent fertility collapse reversal I am aware of happened in Georgia. And it happened after the Rose Revolution, that was after they kicked out the last of the communists. So if you look around the world today, typically fertility rate tracks with income. But you’ll notice like a gradient where like some countries, it should be higher than you’re expecting and it should be lower than you’re expecting.
And the key differentiator outside of income is how much hope that country has for the future. And this is why in China, you know, fertility rates are much lower than you would expect, given the economic situation of the country. Whereas in a place like Israel, fertility rates are much higher than what you would expect, given the economic situation of the country. Which I think it’s cool. Like, I think it’s cool that a lot of what does motivate fertility in the existing climate are largely good things or
Malcolm Collins (38:20.185)
really evil things. It’s like one of the one of the two. And so I sort of predict in where we see our civilization going is sort of a combination of yeah, this intercultural alliance of people who are motivating for, you know, improving the quality of their kids life, having their kids voluntarily want to stay within their cultural group, etc.
Yeah, okay. One other area. So as you were kind of alluding to some of this, that the dark pathway, let’s say, if things go a more authoritarian pathway, what kinds of things, what kind of scenarios do we see? So as an example, I mean, a few examples I’ve heard, I’m curious to get your reaction. I believe people are talking now about Canada has this made program, which is kind of sad, like people are sort of, you know, they’re sort of, cynically speaking, they’re sort of killing off older people to not have to pay
Malcolm Collins (38:54.51)
pensions and things like that. People talk about this concept of the handmaid’s tale sort of scenario. Is it possible that they try to tax bachelors in the future? They try to say, hey you’re a bachelor, you better have children or we’re going to tax you harder. Some people even mention this idea of parents receive a fraction of children’s income taxes and things like this.
Malcolm Collins (39:31.303)
Malcolm Collins (39:35.041)
Yeah, we’ve proposed that we had a Robin Hansen on our show talk about that. Yeah. So actually, I want to talk about all of the crazy, amazing things that governments are going to do to fix this. But I think what we are learning, because we in the United States or if you’re in Europe, I think most of your audience, they are not in the worst hit parts of this. Right. We can already see countries that are further along the timeline than we are.
Korea, where I first started caring about this, is the country that’s furthest along this collapse timeline. And as I mentioned, they’ve spent a lot of money on this, but it’s been in ways that they should have known wouldn’t work. I.e. cash handouts, childcare services, cheaper daycare, etc. Except everywhere this has been done, this stuff doesn’t work. And so what we see from that, and what we see from the other countries that are further along in this collapse, is there is just an…
political unwillingness to do what actually needs to be done to increase fertility rates because it is a problem with long term rewards. So I’ll word this differently. Now, China might actually do something. You know, they’re already like banning vasectomies, banning abortion, stuff like that to try to get their fertility rates up. That didn’t work for Iran, by the way. Iran tried all this too. So that’s why I’m not worried about China fixing this anytime soon, because they’re just further behind on Iran’s timeline of a totalitarian government throwing everything it can at the wall.
Um, but, uh, gosh, where were they? Um, oh, yes. Yeah, I just don’t expect that many of these more extreme solutions to be tried because politicians will be punished for them. The extreme solutions require sacrifices or changes on behalf of the populace, and they don’t have a benefit until like 40 years down the line, until like 30 years down the line. That’s.
That’s the problem with fertility rates, is they don’t matter. Like all of the sacrifices that you make to fix the potential problem don’t matter within the lifespan of any given politician’s career. So there is never going to be a motivation to look for real solutions. What they’ll look for is handout-y solutions, cash handouts, free childcare, stuff like that, and not the solutions that actually seem to work. The only groups that are really motivated to find solutions that really work,
Malcolm Collins (41:49.765)
are cultural groups that care that they exist in the future. And this is why if you look at wealthy countries, the one country that just has a off the charts, high fertility rates for what it should be is Israel. And that’s because it is a culture and a religion and a political class all sort of bowled together into one, which is doing a pretty good job at motivating.
itself existing in the future. Like these motivations are much more aligned than they are within different contexts, which is why I look at everything from the cultural perspective and why right now, when I’m out there preaching, I preach much more to individuals and religious institutions and cultures. Even, you know, people like the Bitcoin community is a culture, right? It’s a culture that has an ideology, a new way of potentially doing things, a new way of structuring itself. And so it makes sense to pitch.
hey, build an iteration of this that in some way motivates fertility. And that iteration will exist in the future. Like what I was saying earlier, which is so cool, is you of the people who make a point of existing in the future, i.e. showing up, having kids, building a culture for them, because so few cultures in the world today are high fertility and technophilic. Even one like if you are doing this, you will matter. You will matter in the future of the human species, because there are
Maybe and like we running the pro-natalist movement, we see all the people working on this. There are maybe. I don’t know. Ten thousand families in the world today, which are technophilic and pro-natalist. It is rare, rare. And I mean, in the world, I’m talking China, I’m talking Iran, I’m talking Africa, I’m talking South America. I’m not just talking in the US or in like the Anglosphere.
Really interesting. And so bringing to that next question, how does one build a culture and a family line? How does one motivate their children to go on to have more children? Is it a cultural thing? Is it in the way you raise that family? How are you thinking about that?
Malcolm Collins (43:58.005)
Yeah, so you’ve got to have a culture that has a way of exogenous motivating high fertility. It can do this through ideology. It can do this through status. And there’s many ways you can do it. Like we go really in detail in the Pragmatist Guide to Crafting Religion, which sells for like two dollars and like all the money goes to nonprofits. If people want it, it’s got an audiobook, blah, blah. Anyway, so anyway, those are the two ways that you motivate high fertility rate. But you also need to motivate intergenerational cultural transfer fidelity. That means that the culture transfers between generations with high fidelity.
Some cultures recently have shown themselves to be really good at this, while other cultures that historically were good at this have shown themselves to be very susceptible to modern technology. An example here would be Mormons. Their fertility rate has crashed and their bleed rate has shot way up. Bleed rate being the intergenerational rate of leaving the culture, whereas Amish has gone down over time. We, in our book, hypothesize that this is primarily due with their coming-of-age ritual.
So the time when most people deconvert is, of any cultural tradition, is during sort of the teenage coming of age years. The Mormon community, the way that it historically did this is it separated the individual from non-Mormons and it dedicated them entirely to Mormon pursuits. This was what you were doing on your mission trip, right? Whereas the Amish did the exact opposite. They kicked the person out of the community and were like, okay, you can leave, not kick them out, but we’re like, you can leave the community if you want.
experience what the English, what the non-Amish have, see if any of that is as fulfilling to you as what you have back here. And most people don’t even really try because it’s immediately obvious to them how hard life would be if they left the Amish community in trying to establish themselves and how genuinely satisfying the life that the Amish community built for them was. So it’s through giving them the choice. And I think we see this increasingly. A lot of cultural groups historically motivated intergenerational fidelity of cultural transfer.
by essentially threatening people, saying you’ll suffer for eternity, you will be shunned by everyone in our cultural group, you’ll, you know, et cetera. And with the internet, these threats just aren’t as effective. Whereas cultural groups which motivate intergenerational transfer through improving the quality of the children’s upbringing, their mental health, and their ability to interact with the world.
Malcolm Collins (46:13.605)
Those are the ones where kids are raised within them and they’re like, yeah, I wanna do that again for my kids. And as we say, the first 18 years of your kid’s life are your chance to give them a sales pitch for your culture. And if you don’t do a good job, it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. My kids have the chance to say, yeah, dad, you pitched this to me, I saw how it worked out for you, it wasn’t great, I’m gonna try something different. That’s better than me being able to force my cultural tradition on them.
The problem we have now is we’re in sort of a messed up cultural economy where the dominant cultural group is just sort of messing everything up by putting in all of these unfair advantages for itself that just make it very, very hard to compete. So what I would say is just think intentionally about a lot of this stuff. Check out the book if you’re interested in doing it. And yeah.
Yeah, okay. Uh, as you said, there are certain advantages that the urban monoculture uses to, let’s say, proselytize or steal children from the actually productive or fertile.
Malcolm Collins (47:15.821)
Yeah, whatever word you want to use. There’s a conservative way to say it. Save them from their deplorable parents with backwards and uncivilized beliefs, or, you know, convert, you know, steal children, right? Like there’s two ways to… But anyway, continue.
Yeah, I was just saying, basically this urban monoculture, as you said, is sort of good at taking other people’s kids. Maybe that’s also part of the argument for homeschooling, I think. I’m a fan of homeschooling. I think that’s one way that if you’re concerned about the culture in certain particular countries, that homeschooling can help you take something, take.
away some of that harmful influence on your children and change things a little bit in your favor. One other area I’m curious, whether this matters to you or not, in terms of like, kind of thinking about the economics of it and which generations will matter, right? Because what happens, it seems, is that generations that are bigger sort of have more voting power at the ballot box if you’re in a democracy and then they can sort of vote themselves more benefits.
And maybe that’s where we’re seeing these clashes now between, let’s say, millennials and Gen Z versus the boomers. There seems to be this fight. And I’m curious how you sort of see this playing out in future generations, because maybe the millennials will be a big generation relatively. You know, what does that mean?
Malcolm Collins (48:34.734)
Malcolm Collins (48:45.693)
The boomers are going to be a big generation for a long time, you know, because of life extension technology, and they are going to increasingly this is why you don’t see political responses to this. And to your point about homeschooling, one of our big projects is the Collins Institute. People can check it out at CollinsInstitute.org, which is a hopefully we’re live by like Q1 next year, Q2 next year, we’re getting closer, a totally new educational paradigm that’s designed to replace the existing public school system without deconverting people’s kids.
Because, yeah, it’s absolutely critical. But we got to remember, you know, you look at Germany, like I just came back from sort of a European press tour, private school is illegal there. You know, in a lot of countries, as the virus takes over more and more, it begins to make, like in the New York area, they have talked about making private schools illegal multiple times, and it is very hard in a lot of like far progressive states to even do homeschooling, right? Because they recognize this defensive strategy, and it’s really difficult.
And all I can say is that if you’re in an environment like that, you just need to move. Like there really isn’t an option. Um, but yeah, and by the way, I do need to leave at the top of the hour.
Yeah, that’s fine. So I guess just one other area. So I mean, you’ve mentioned this idea that it’s not worth your time to sort of try at the general level. I wonder how much of this is just at a broad level, just to pick an example, people watching Sex and the City, and maybe young women watch that and then they think about the life of Carrie’s character. And sort of that motivates them to delay having children, delay having marriage.
and that then impacting, is there a way that culture can be shifted as well? Like that you can make it cool to have kids and to marry young and things like this?
Malcolm Collins (50:31.901)
Well, I mean, that’s what we’re doing. That’s what we’re doing with our podcasts. That’s what we’re doing with our public advocacy is trying to show what is so rare in media today, which is a emotionally healthy and loving large family, which is just something you don’t see in media much anymore. And when you don’t have an evoked set for something, people can begin to believe. I’ve talked with prenatalists who are like in…
happy relationships and I’m like, why aren’t you getting married? And they go, well, we need to be dating for three years before we get engaged. And I’m like, that is just stupid. Like why you are a pernatalist. Like you should know you don’t actually need to be dating for three years. If you both know you really care about each other and are unlikely to like historically, this wasn’t something we did. This was historically wasn’t something almost anyone did. Um, actually, if you look at arranged marriages,
The rates of love in arranged marriages are the same as the rates of love in non-arranged marriages. But if you account survivorship bias because arranged marriages have divorces at lower rates in non-arranged marriages, the rates of love are actually higher. What really matters is that you find a compatible partner and then you structure your relationship in a sane and equitable way. But that is just not something that our current world preps you for. With all these gender wars and everything like that, it structures everything to be
a conflict in a way that is pretty unresolvable for a lot of people. Well, that on top of this broken data market that we’re in, I do not envy the position of young men and women out there right now trying to find a partner because it is hard.
Yeah. I’m curious. I know we’ve only got a few minutes, so just a quick answer if you have time. Uh, the, I’m wondering, is there some, you know, merit to going back to the ways of old instead of, you know, having modern dating, is it going to go back to more like old school courtship and things like this?
Malcolm Collins (52:22.373)
Yeah, it won’t go back to the ways of old. So a lot of people think that you can do this. And this is one big faction of the pro-natalist movement that does want to go back to the way things used to be. It just won’t work. The cultures that were optimized in the past were optimized for a completely different social and technological environment. They didn’t have the internet, they didn’t have memes, they didn’t have little addictive.
boxes that people give to children when they’re young and you can say well then I’ll ban all of that technology Well, then you won’t be economically relevant if you don’t use technology Which is you know the point we keep making you can go back to the ways of old and that will work Only if you do it while banning technology The problem is that makes you economically irrelevant in an age of AI and crypto and stuff like that, right?
So if you want to be an economically relevant player, you need to find new cultural systems which are resistant to all of these new technological threats. Now, it’s important to note that this does not mean that you’re pulling shit out of your ass. You can build this up by looking to your ancestral culture. That’s what we did. That’s why we call ourselves secular Calvinists, if you look at the way we talk about it and everything like that.
We looked at the philosophy and religion and theology and culture of our ancestors, and then tried to restructure it in a way that I felt would be more intergenerationally resistant to engaging with science and technology. And I feel that what we have come to is, and I would encourage most people to do that. I don’t think it’s a good idea to whole-clos copy somebody else’s way of doing things. I think it’s much better.
to look at your own ancestors, what they believed, how they approached the world, and then modify that to work effectively within our existing technological ecosystem, which will put additional pressures. And I think that this is one of the reasons why the Mormon fertility rate is crashing so much is because they just don’t have the resistances, you could say mimetic resistances. Like it’s a culture that was designed for an earlier time.
Malcolm Collins (54:31.245)
and you need to update your antivirus if you’re gonna deal with these pneumatic viruses. Yeah.
You need some better defenses there. Yeah. All right. Well, I know you’ve got to run. So I’ll put the links in the show notes. That’s pronatalist.org. Listeners, you can find Malcolm’s links over at StephanLivera.com/524. Malcolm, thank you very much for joining me.
Malcolm Collins (54:46.233)
Yeah. Love to have you here. And we’d really love to see you guys is based camp on YouTube or anywhere where you get your podcasts and have a spectacular day. You guys based camp like the word based and then camp. All right. Have a good one.