The economics of comic book universes

Aside from physical capital, economies must take advantage of their human capital to grow. But even with metahumans this is a tricky proposition. In an earlier post Mark discussed the potential benefits of having mutants performing tasks such as construction if they ever took a break from blowing stuff up. However, looking at economic development through the lens of the Solow model I feel that these mutants may ultimately prove unable to increase long-run living standards. Any effect that Magneto may have on productivity will only temporarily move the economy to a higher steady-state output per person (y/n). With his death the economy will move back to where it was (and probably experience some unpleasant distortions during the transition). The reason is that Magneto is essentially no different than a tractor or any other piece of capital equipment. He ages, depreciates and eventually dies. More importantly however, is the basic result of the Solow model: sustained growth in y/n can only be achieved if there is concurrent growth in our stock of knowledge and technology, something Magneto cannot contribute to. Without technological change, the economy will eventually reach a steady-state level of y/n and all growth will cease. Even so, the Marvel universe does have one ace in the hole, and he’s got a big green head!

That’s from the post Alien Technology and Economic Growth: Lessons from Solow from Eco-Comics, a blog dedicated to studying the economics of comic book universes.

(Thanks MathPunk)

1 Comment

  1. Bill Whitcomb

    June 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Check out Damage Control, a fictional construction company appearing in Marvel Comics, which specializes in cleaning up after battles between super heroes and villains:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damage_Control_(comics)

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