Economics Professor lectures at the Ripley Center in Washington, D.C.

hunger games

This February, University Professor of Economics Brian O’Roark lectured at the Ripley Center in Washington, D.C. The lecture was part of the  Economics+ series at the Smithsonian, which examines economics from unexpected and entertaining perspectives.

Prof. O'Roark lectured on Economics + Dystopian Literature, telling the large crowd how dystopian literature -- which 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 -- offers a perfect setting for an economic analysis.

Recent works like The Hunger GamesDivergent, and Maze Runner, along with classics Brave New World and 1984, as well as The Walking Dead comic book series, all provide a lens through which he examined basic economic topics like scarcity, incentives, game theory, growth, and trade policy. What all the stories in dystopian literature have in common is a fundamental failure of the powers that be to understand economics, which might be the most dystopian result of all.