Real-World Economic Theory and Fictional Dystopia in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Series

A Senior Capstone Experience by Maggie Moore ’22

Submitted to the Departments of Economics and English

Advised by Dr. Adalbert Mayer and Dr. Courtney Rydel

Contributor Biography:

Maggie Moore is a recent graduate of Washington College and the author of “Real-World Economic Theory and Fictional Dystopia in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Series,” for which she received SCE Honors and Departmental Honors in both Economics and English. Moore investigates the relationship between economics and the dystopian genre, and she also aims to prove that a better understanding of basic economic theory can help readers better appreciate books such as The Hunger Games and life in general. Moore grew up in Harford County, Maryland and lives with her mother and younger brother. She enjoys reading Young Adult novels, going on walks with her dog, Marvel, and is excited to start work as a teacher.


There has been much scholarly discussion dedicated to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series in recent years. Most scholars tend to restrict themselves to one particular area of focus, and in my case, I found a very distinct difference in scholars with a background in Economics as opposed to English scholars when dissecting Collins’ Young Adult series. While I found the analyses of literary and economic scholars to be thought-provoking and intriguing, I could not help but feel as if there was a lack of communication between the different disciplines. Therefore, the main focus of my thesis is to connect economic and literary ideas in a way in which readers of The Hunger Games series and my thesis can reach new conclusions previously unexplored.

In my thesis, I aim to connect seemingly isolated ideas from both English and Economic disciplines to understand Collins’ series on a deeper level. Not only that, but I also provide explanations of common economic topics so that readers may take these principles and apply them to their daily lives. The findings of this thesis do not become useless outside the context of Collins’ series, because as the title of my thesis implies, there are larger real-world implications within the context of this work. To better understand Collins’ series, I argue that by using the mentality and knowledge of both an economic and literary scholar, readers can more accurately define the genre of Young Adult dystopia, better understand the characters of the novels through concepts such as specialization of labor, and even come to realize how multi-faceted symbols in a work become when approached from more than one angle. My approach to this thesis can be repeated by using a combination of different disciplines, and even regarding Collins’ series, entirely different theses can be written on a combination of disciplines such as Sociology, Political Science, and more. The numerous findings that can be made by interpreting a small subject such as The Hunger Games emphasizes the many ways in which the world can be seen. There is no point in fixating on one mentality or mindset, as it is beneficial to expand one’s current knowledge and continue to look at books, and life, through a menagerie of lenses.

Key Words: The Hunger Games, specialization of labor, dystopia, economic theory, literary theory, bread, Peeta, resources, opportunity cost

Read Maggie’s SCE below:

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