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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Parenthood Lottery  
  A means of restricting population growth.  

I'm not sure how old this idea is; here is a reference from Aldiss' story.

He caught a glimpse of the heading on the photostat in her hand, still moist from the wall-receiver: Ministry of Population. He felt the color drain from his face in sudden shock and hope.

"Monica ... oh ... Don't tell me our number's come up!"

"Yes, my darling, yes, we've won this week's parenthood lottery! We can go ahead and conceive a child at once!"

He let out a yell of joy. They danced round the room. Pressure of population was such that reproduction had to be strict, controlled. Childbirth required government permission. For this moment, they had waited four years. Incoherently they cried their delight.

From Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, by Brian Aldiss.
Published by Harper's Bazaar in 1969
Additional resources -

Larry Niven also talks about this idea in his Known Space stories, but I can't think of any references earlier than 1969.

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