What is the government and economy in The Hunger Games?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Suzanne Collins does not specifically spell out the style of government and economy in her novel The Hunger Games, the reader can infer that the government is a totalitarian dictatorship and that the economy is a command economic system.

Panem, headed by the ruthless President Snow, is an example of a totalitarian dictatorship.  In a totalitarian regime, the government controls all aspect of society, often through propaganda, use of fear and intimidation, secret police, and a strict code of laws.  Panem uses all of these means to control the people living in the Districts.  The Capitol routinely uses propaganda concerning the "dark days" and District Thirteen's annihilation and the Games themselves to ensure the forced cooperation of the remaining Districts.  Strict monitoring occurs through the Peacekeepers and video surveillance.  The Capitol also uses strict and harsh punishment, like creating Avoxes out of traitors, as a reminder to the other citizens to uphold the law or not to criticize the government.

Panem's economy is a command economic system or planned economy.  In this style of economy, the government controls the means of production and decides how to use and regulate resources and products.  In Panem, the distribution of wealth and resources is determined by the Capitol, who allots "tesserae" to its citizens, which are "a meager year's supply of grain and oil for one person" (Collins 13).  Controlling the flow of resources and goods to the Districts is just one more way that the Capitol can expand their power over the people of the twelve districts, leaving them hungry and dependent on Panem's mercy. 

One interesting side note to Panem's command economy is the Hob, "the black market that operates in an abandoned warehouse that once held coal;" the Hob is an example of a market economy (Collins 11).