Halloween treat: Professor writes about how zombies would impact economy

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Colgate Assistant Professor of Economics Michael O’Hara has contributed a ghoulish chapter to Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science, a recently published book that takes an academic approach to some of the favorite horror traditions of film land.

O’Hara’s chapter, “Zombies as an Invasive Species,” examines how real-life feral pig problems can be used as a model to predict the what-if scenario of a zombie invasion and the inevitable economic impacts.

“Like zombies, wild hogs start out as a domesticated and economically productive species. … Unlike zombies, they are not undead, and their bite cannot change another creature into a wild hog, but they offer the closest comparison available to us for analyzing the effects of policy intervention. Studying efforts to control the costs of feral hogs can inform our economic analysis of zombies,” O’Hara writes.

While examining a zombie outbreak sounds like a lot of fun, O’Hara says he also uses the exercise as a teaching tool in his Natural Resource Economics class, where he asks students how they would change standard models of recreational hunting to fit the zombie scenario.

An excerpt from O’Hara’s chapter is featured on the book’s website, and it was recently discussed on its blog after the village of Clarendon Hills, Ill. issued zombie hunting permits in support of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The book, edited by Glen Whitman and James Dow, was recently featured on the Freakonomics Radio podcast and has been reviewed in the Washington PostSeattle Post-Intelligencer, and Publishers Weekly.