What are Pops in Stellaris?


Unlike ships, pops are one of the more “unglamorous” parts of an empire. Every empire needs them, and every empire has them since they directly affect your economic power

Pops are what make an empire function. They drive the production levels and provide the resources an empire needs to explore and dominate the galaxy. The happier they are the more they produce.

Pops are in one of three social classes if the empire is not a Gestalt Consciousness:

  • Rulers are the top-level decision-makers and administrators on the planet. These are the individuals who are at the very top of the social structure. Rulers help produce Unity and Amenities, which helps keep the local populace happy.
  • Specialists are individuals who are one step up from the workers and are usually employed at the buildings at the planet. These are the people who turn minerals into alloys, minerals into consumer goods, etc.
  • Workers are the mainstay of an empire’s population. These are the individuals working in the Power, farming, and mining districts producing the raw materials the empire needs to function.

For a Gestalt Consciousness there are only two classes:

  • Complex Drones take care of the specialized needs of an empire
  • Menial Drones handle the everyday tasks, like extracting minerals, of an empire.

Stellaris Can Pops Change Ethics

Pops can change ethics, but it takes time, sometimes a lot of it. The game is set up to closely mimic the attraction rating for each ethic so in time the overall makeup of an empire will reflect the attraction for each ethic. If an empire has three dominant ethics, then the pops supporting them will slowly drift in those directions. For example, if an empire has Egalitarian ethic with an attraction value of 43%, Xenophile at 32%, and Spiritualist at 25%, and if the Egalitarian ethic only has 39% of the pops currently supporting it, that number will slowly drift up to 43%, indicating that 5% of the pops have changed their ethics. Embracing an ethic as an empire significantly increases its attraction value. Read more about ethics on our How To Change Ethics page.

How Does Happiness Affect the Population in Stellaris

Happiness affects planet stability and impacts production on the planet. There are three major benefits to keeping a planet’s population happy.

A happy population, as mentioned above, produces much more than an unhappy one although you need to get into the 80% happiness range before you see any benefits. For example, having a population at 100% happiness can produce as much as a 30% bonus to production of resources. On the other hand, an empire starts suffering penalties when happiness drops below 50%

Next, keeping everyone happy makes them like your empire’s ethics and policies a lot more, resulting in less factions, which are usually created by unhappy pops. Less factions means less friction and better stability, which gives a planet a better “Approval Rating.” Pops in the upper classes will have a bigger impact on stability and happiness due to their increased political power.

The Approval Rating can be a little difficult to find. It’s located on the Population tab of the Colony screen, next to the “Demographics” label. If your pops are happy the label will have a smiley face on it. The political power of each class of pops has a major impact on the approval rating and is directly related to each pop class’s political power.

And finally, the happier you keep everyone the more stable the planet is, with less crime and all that other nasty stuff that happens when everyone is unhappy.

How to Increase Happiness in Stellaris

There are a bunch of ways to increase pop happiness in Stellaris. Here a just a few.

  • If you have the room construct buildings that increase happiness on the planet by producing amenities.
  • Keep factions as happy as possible. Go to the factions screen and check the approval ratings. If a large faction is unhappy it will drag down the happiness on the planets it has a presence on. Check out their issues, maybe you can do something that makes them happier.
  • Adopt and finish the Harmony tradition. The Greater Good tradition increases the governing ethics attraction by 25%. This will tend to make an empire more like a “big, happy family” and increase happiness in the long run. Once you finish it all planetary stabilities are increased by 5%.
  • Improve the living standard of the species in your empire. Got the species screen, select a species, then choose “Set Rights.” You can elect (if your empire meets the requirements) to drug them out of their minds with Chemical Bliss. It increases pop happiness by a whopping 40%, but pops in a drug induced euphoria don’t feel like doing much so there will be a 60% decrease in resource output. A less extreme measure would be to employ Utopian Abundance, which makes Rulers, Specialists, and Workers 20% happier at the cost of more consumer goods.
  • Influence your next election (if your empire has them) and try to get a leader elected who is a Champion of the People. This leader will provide an empire-wide bonus to happiness of 5% while in office.

Ruining Buildings by Resettling Unemployed Pops?

Ever get a pop-up menu saying “This is going to disable a building place. This is going to ruin any other building at this place or cancel the current construction”?

If several pops are unemployed moving them will ruin a building if the total population on the planet drops below the number required to maintain all the buildings. For instance, it takes a minimum of 30 pops to maintain 7 buildings. If you have 31 pops with 2 unemployed, and resettle both, it will ruin a building since the planet will end up with 29 pops, one below the required 30. The pop up is an alert letting know that’s about to happen, but it really doesn’t explain things very well.

How Do I Deal With Overcrowding in Completely Full Planets?

One method, although it incurs penalties, is to discourage planetary growth. Go to the Decisions screen from the planetary screen and select “Discourage Planetary Growth.” This reduces growth by 75% but it costs 25% more in amenities to take care of the pops on the planet, plus their overall upkeep goes up by 25%. It also increases “immigration push” by 100%, meaning more pops are going to want to leave.

You can forcibly resettle pops from one planet to the next. If the resettle button is grayed out check out your policies. There is an option titled “Resettlement” and if it says “Prohibited” you’ll need to change it to “Allowed.” There is no penalty for changing it, but it can’t be changed back to “Prohibited” for 10 years.

Need more Stellaris help? Visit our 101 Stellaris Beginner’s Tips page.

Rich Gallien

I've always liked board games like chess and PC games, especially space based strategy games, which lead to the creation of this site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it and updating it with new games!

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