Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science

Edited by Glen Whitman and James P. Dow, Jr. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (310p) ISBN 978-1-4422-3502-1
Whitman (Strange Brew: Alcohol and Government Monopoly) 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 post-apocalypse 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, but more advanced readers will learn little about economics or pop culture. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 07/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 310 pages - 978-1-4422-3503-8
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4422-5666-8
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