Elon Musk's $10 Million Pronatalism Donation Is A Cover For Eugenics Support

Thank god we have this guy to tell us that humanity should be more like him - Photo: Marc Piasecki (Getty Images)
Thank god we have this guy to tell us that humanity should be more like him - Photo: Marc Piasecki (Getty Images)

Elon Musk loves kids. No, probably not like that, he’s just a big fan of having lots of kids — so long as they don’t go having opinions of their own, that is. In fact, Musk loves kids so much that he thinks you should have one. Have a few. Have a bunch, even. Just, make sure you’re the type who should be having kids first.

This is, effectively, the driving idea behind the Population Wellbeing Initiative, a project out of the University of Texas at Austin that Musk established with a $10 million donation. It’s the idea behind Musk’s constant birth rate alarmism on social media, a topic he’s even paired with the racist “great replacement” theory. A new Bloomberg report shows just how deep Musk’s ties to the pronatalist movement go:

If you’ve paid unhealthily close attention, you may have also noticed another pattern. It’s become rarer and rarer for Musk to get through an interview or meet a world leader without bringing up babies, sometimes with his young son X in tow. In Musk’s mind, global fertility rates are not just a crisis, but the crisis. In 2022 he tweeted that “a collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces, by far.” In 2023 he told Tucker Carlson, “Once you have birth control and abortions and whatnot, now you can still satisfy the limbic instinct but not procreate.” He added, “Will civilization end with a bang or a whimper? Well, it’s currently trying to end with a whimper in adult diapers, which is depressing as hell.” He repeated a version of the adult diapers line in an interview with Michael Milken at the Milken Institute’s annual conference this past May.


The facts don’t seem to have put Musk’s mind at ease. He’s fathered at least 12 children, six of them in the past five years—three with the musician Grimes and three with Neuralink Corp.’s director of special projects, Shivon Zilis, including one who hasn’t been known to the public until now. That child was born earlier this year, according to people familiar with the matter, who would only discuss it on condition of anonymity. Zilis declined to comment, and Musk didn’t respond to inquiries.


In 2021, not long after moving from California to Texas, Musk anonymously donated $10 million to the University of Texas at Austin, according to his foundation’s tax returns for that year. This donation, Musk’s largest ever to higher education, established a research group called the Population Wellbeing Initiative.

Publicly, PWI says its mission is “quantitative social science research.” Privately, it has said it aims to legitimize the idea that “low fertility is a key threat to long-run flourishing,” according to copies of emails reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek. (Businessweek obtained these and other email contents referenced throughout this story via public records requests.)


Musk’s goal, through PWI, is to encourage higher birth rates in hopes of stemming some sort of sudden population collapse — a collapse that scientists largely agree is unrealistic bordering on impossible. His intense focus on such an unlikely outcome isn’t without precedent, however: With Musk’s ties to the Ethical Altruist movement in mind — a link Bloomberg also noted — this fear-based approach echoes the EA approach of longtermism.

Ethical Altruism is an offshoot of utilitarianism, focused on doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people — specifically, how rich people can best donate their money to empirically help more people, rather than focusing on causes they simply care about. The longtermist view expands to cover potential future people within that utilitarian viewpoint, arguing that they deserve protection most of all, and that something that threatens all of them — no matter how unlikely, like the myth of population collapse — must be fought against at all costs. Abigail Thorn has a great description:

Yet, despite its EA roots, Musk’s pronatalist approach — the one he’s spending all this money on — doesn’t appear to be designed for all future people. One need only look to Musk’s long-running fandom of eugenics-comedy Idiocracy(the 2000s were a weird time) to see that he cares about what kinds of people inherit the earth. Bloomberg talks about the eugenics of pronatalism in broad strokes, pointing out that the movement often bends toward preserving specific races or traits, but we can look to Musk’s history to theorize about his personal desired outcomes. From Mother Jones:

[Mother Jones journalist Garrison Hayes] zeroes in on a specific phenomenon: Musk is amplifying users who will incorporate cherry-picked data and misleading graphs into their argument as to why people of European descent are biologically superior, showing how fringe accounts, like user @eyeslasho, experience a drastic jump in followers after Musk shares their tweets. The @eyeslasho account has even thanked Musk for raising “awareness” in a thread last year. (Neither @eyeslasho nor Musk, via X, responded to Garrison’s request for an interview.)

“People are almost more susceptible to simpler charts with race and IQ than they are to the really complicated stuff,” Will Stancil, a lawyer and research fellow at the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, told Garrison in a video interview. He added: “This is the most basic statistical error in the book: Correlation does not equal causation.”

Musk has long held the idea that C-sections lead to higher intelligence — a theory refuted by scientific studies — but there’s more to his beliefs than that. In these same tweets, Musk ties “assortative mating” to “a massive rise in exceptionally smart people” — assortative mating being the tendency for like to attract like.

Elon Musk believes people should have more babies. He believes those babies should be smart, and he believes that’s best achieved through people breeding with others like them — in the phrenological sense. He believes that this effort is of world-saving importance, and believes it’s worth millions of dollars in financial backing. Is this someone you want to buy a car from?

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