Robert Morris University

Harry Potter and Economics

Professor Brian O’Roark describes Potterverse monetary theory and other concepts in Smithsonian talk.

Harry Potter

Even with all the magical powers at his command, Harry Potter still must deal with fiscal reality. That’s the message of RMU economics professor Brian O’Roark in a recent virtual address for Smithsonian Associates, “Economics + Harry Potter.”

According to O’Roark, economics pervades the Potterverse, including monetary systems, black markets, corruption, labor issues, human-capital development, and utility theory. You can listen to him discuss these concepts in this free Smithsonian Associates Inside Science Series podcast.

The August 4 virtual presentation was O’Roark’s third talk for the Washington, D.C., organization, which is the education programming branch of the Smithsonian. Earlier talks focused on economics in dystopian literature and in superhero scenarios.

“Most people are more familiar with pop culture than they are with economics,” O’Roark says. “By putting that subject into a context with which they are more acquainted, it allows them to see that economics isn't that mysterious at all. Economics provides a superstructure for the stories being told.”

O’Roark is a co-author of Essentials of Economics, author of Why Superman Doesn't Take Over the World, and editor of Superheroes and Economics.