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Economics + Dystopian Literature
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.
Dystopian literature chronicles a future in which a cataclysmic event has wiped out a portion of the population, and the world as we know it is now dominated by a totalitarian system of government. Beyond a compelling read, for economist Brian O’Roark tales of dystopian societies offer a perfect setting for an economic analysis.
Recent works in the genre including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner, along with classics Brave New World and 1984, and The Walking Dead comic book series provide a lens through which O’Roark examines some basic economic topics like scarcity, incentives, game theory, growth, and trade policy. What all the stories in dystopian literature have in common, he finds, is a fundamental failure of the powers that be to understand economics—and that might be the most dystopian result of all.
O'Roark is the author of Why Superman Doesn't Take Over the World: What Superheroes Can Tell Us About Economics and co-author of Essentials of Economics.
The program launches an occasional series called Economics + that examines economics from unexpected and entertaining perspectives.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)