- Hardcover: 298 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 17, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1442235020
- ISBN-13: 978-1442235021
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science
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Whitman and Dow, both professors of economics at California State University, Northridge, gather 23 essays that explore the centrality of economic issues to today’s popular vampire and zombie novels and films. Whitman uses vampire romance to explain marriage markets, suggesting, among other things, that undead love tales shed light on the sunk cost fallacy. Dow takes the characteristic wealth of vampires (they do have to finance a very long retirement) as an excuse to talk about compound interest. Other essays connect the zombie apocalypse with Adam Smith (how will postapocalypse survivors 'return to their prior level of prosperity'?), True Blood to privatization, zombie invasion to problems like the spread of feral hogs in the U.S., and the residential and geographic choices of the undead to the Tiebout Hypothesis. More insightfully, contributor Lorna Piatti-Farnell notices the way Gothic language pervades Marx’s writings about capitalism. This frothy foray into Econ 101 might seduce freshman to the dismal science. (Publishers Weekly)
Economics of the Undead, edited by Glen Whitman and James Dow . . . is the perfect blend of smart and pop culture. On the one hand, it is a deep collection of studies and economic thought, referencing Adam Smith and Charles M. Tiebout, who defined the theory on local community. On the other, it is jammed with examples from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Dawn of the Dead (any and all versions). . . .Economics of the Undead goes in a wide variety of directions, giving something for anyone who wants to ponder the impact of the dead-alive. (Blogcritics)
Perhaps the best aspect of Economics of the Undead is that it links what is so often considered an escapist genre to the real world. As outlined above, many of the theories that are applied to the undead figures also have practical economic, social, and political applications. . . .Whitman, Dow, et al have certainly made a convincing argument for the relevance of undead workings in the field of economics. Recognising that a vampire can be persuaded to trade with the living rather than stealing their blood; having a sense of security under the terms of comprehensive zombification insurance; appreciating the fact that this dazzling creature in front of you might just be your new Tinder date — the volume encourages us to ponder these scenarios and more. Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires and theDismal Science permits the reader to rest easy in the knowledge that their next graveyard encounter with the supernatural will be decidedly less one-sided. (The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies)
These are serious people taking on serious topics…That’s worth thinking about, isn’t it? (Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics podcast, “What Can Vampires Teach Us About Economics?” (2014))
For too long, economics has been lagging behind the other social sciences in explaining the political economy of the undead. With this volume, Whitman and Dow take a lurching step forward in closing the gap. (Daniel W. Drezner, Professor of International Politics, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University)
Those who are looking to get their finances in order for the coming Zombie apocalypse should definitely buy this book. But so should anyone else who is interested in how the worlds of zombie and vampire movies would really work--or for that matter, anyone who is interested in having complex economic topics lucidly and entertainingly explained. Whether you are a professional economist, a Buffy fan, or a vampire, you will learn something new and interesting in every chapter. (Megan McArdle, columnist at Bloomberg View)
About the Author
Dr. Glen Whitman and Dr. James Dow are both professors of economics at California State University, Northridge. Whitman is also the author of Strange Brew: Alcohol and Government Monopoly.
Top customer reviews
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You will find answers to questions what skills would be crucial in post-zombie world (alcohol production), why vampires will pay for bloodsucking not the other way around and what will be the Z era new gold standard. How to invest like a vampire (laying down in a coffin is very important).
Personally, I really enjoyed chapter about time and calendar vs. Dracula. It looks like capitalism is not a blood sucker (see communistic propaganda) but an allie to Van Helsing and his group.
The clearest example of undead economics is the investment strategy for an immortal creature of the night as James Dow notes in his “Investing Secrets of the Undead.” Vampires from Twilight to True Blood and back to Anne Rice have plenty of time (and persuasive powers) on their hands. For those eternal monsters, who may slumber for a hundred years to wake up with $9 million in the bank after starting with $10,000 at seven percent, inflation is an enemy, along with unintended expenses that may make real estate investments problematic.
Another scope of the collection is the apocalypse, which has also intrigued the collective conscious through the past few years. Brian Hollar examines the end of the world as a new beginning, as, quoting Smith, mankind has a “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange.” As long as two people remain, a new economy will start up, though Horwitz and Skwire point out that none should hope for it based on the “broken window fallacy.” Dow notes from the book edition of World War Z the difficulty of widespread trade (an ingredients list for root beer contains nine items from nine countries, stretching from Madagascar’s vanilla to Peru’s balsam oil) and encourages doomsday-preppers not to seek out isolated islands or maintain troves of electronics, but instead to tour Colonial Williamsburg where the local economy is already staged for post-apocalyptic production.
Economics of the Undead goes in a wide variety of directions, giving something for anyone who wants to ponder the impact of the dead-alive. Calculations are given for human-vampire relationships, hypotheses presented for zombie horde-actions, and several discussions are held about ethics of a world in the shadows or gone haywire. Is it better to buy a few silver bullets or many wooden bullets? Perhaps a reusable stake is actually a better investment, although it is incapable of much range. What would that mean for the overall economy of silver-bullet-makers?
These are the questions that make curious intellects race, diving into games of thought for fun as well as reflections on our own habits as the pre-dead. (Originally on Blogcritics)
A few highlights include the first two chapters by the collections editor Glen Whitman whose exploration of the economics of relationships (as framed between human girls and vampire boys, ala Twilight) is a topic worthy of a book in itself. If anything that chapter has made me think differently about a lot of things, relationships and otherwise.
Also of note is a fantastic chapter about the economy after a zombie apocalypse (I had my heart set on bottle caps as money, sadly not), a compelling long term vampire investment chapter by James Dow, another vampire chapter that discusses blood as addiction and addiction as following economic pressures, and a chapter on taxing undead labor.
Another great conversation starter is a chapter that explores the classic econ problem “The Tragedy of the Commons” as expressed with vampires feeding on not-yet-privatized humans, a good conversation starter for sure, especially given its connection to the problem of overfishing.
All and all a great read and if you have a bunch of intellectual friends who sit around drinking and talking about whatever might be worthy of debate, here are a dozen or so debate topics with a fun pop culture framework that will close down the bar more than once.