September 19, 2012 in Editorial
Outside of the Capitol, the 12 districts of Panem have incredibly low living standards. Every day, residents of the districts die of starvation, poor living and working conditions, a lack of healthcare, and—for those between the ages of 12 and 18—mandatory participation if chosen in the Hunger Games. Considering that each year the Hunger Games take place in a new extremely advanced (and presumably costly) dome controlled from the outside shown via telecast with no live spectators, the question has to be asked: how much do the Hunger Games cost Panem?
In our own world, the only event which could be compared to the Hunger Games would be the Olympics. Besides the honor of being a host for the Olympics, the only other advantage for the host city is profits from temporarily increased tourism during (and hopefully after) the games. But for the Olympics, the costs outweigh the profits: management for the “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing estimates that, at the current rate, it will take approximately 30 years to recover the $480 million cost of its construction. Meanwhile, the “Water Cube” aquatics center lost $1 million last year in spite of a government subsidy and revenues from a water park now located within it. To only make matters worse, other venues sit abandoned.
Panem not only has to consider the costs of construction and waste of space but also the additional opportunity cost from the loss of 23 tributes per year; these deceased children could have been town officials, innovators of their time, or additional workers who could have made Panem a more productive country.
If we conservatively estimate that the advanced stadium depicted in the Hunger Games is equivalent to Beijing’s Bird’s Nest, then Panem’s authorities will have spent $480 million constructing the venue for the event. Add another $100 million for a lavish opening ceremony and the games cost Panem at least $580 million each time.
And what effect does this have on Panem’s economy? A recent Olympics host comparable to the Capitol is Athens in 2004. Both have small populations hosting big games. Athens’ deficit climbed to 6.1% of GDP and debt to 110.6% of GDP after games came to an end, arguably contributing to Greece’s current economic woes. No wonder the population rebelled. Resentment for the degree of poverty and the humiliation of having to send children to die each year for the Hunger Games would destabilize the economy of Panem.
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