The moral of Charlie and the chocolate factory is: Economics!

Unravelling the Economics behind Charlie and the chocolate factory!!

~ Sumedha Mahajan

Economics has always found a way out through many fascinating things that the world is a home to. Ever thought economics could be hiding behind Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the chocolate factory “ ?! Yes! Chocolate it is. How can chocolate be a tool to bring forward all that economics revolves around? Here is an attempt to unravel the various economic principles that are deeply embedded in the film.

~The concept of risk taking and betting.

Economics often involves talking decisions that are uncertain or that lead to uncertain outcomes and circumstances because often we can’t predict what will happen in future and given the fact that economics in itself is the inexact or uncertain science. Thus when people purchase lottery tickets, they are betting or gambling. Now this points out towards the idea of risk taking. That there exist two kinds of people: risk averse and risk lovers and as portrayed in the movie, often those who are economically sound or own a large amount of wealth tend to undertake greater risk because they have so much that they generally don’t fear loss. The rich spend a lot to ensure they grab the opportunity of the golden lottery tickets.

~ The marketing strategy

When we talk about producers or markets, the sale of a particular product or the expansion of the markets depends upon the way you reach out to the people and make them believe in the product so that their willingness to purchase increases. The movie offers us a clear example of how people from all the sections of the society are attracted by the powerful marketing strategy offered by Willy Wonka and land up buying tons of chocolate bars. One can very well imagine how powerful marketing as a tool is. The basic aim of marketing is to know and understand the customers so well that the product fits in and sells itself and this is what has been precisely portrayed in the movie too.

~ Scarcity
The basic idea behind the existence of economics is the presence of scarcity, the choices to be made in the presence of it and how have the resources been allocated in the economy. The availability of only five tickets for the whole world and the lack of resources that Charlie’s family had because of which Charlie often had to make a trade off and not buy as much as he wanted to like the other kids who belonged to the higher income groups, is a clear portrayal of how scarcity affects the functioning of the society and the world at large. There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it.

~ Divide between the rich and the poor
The difference between rich and the poor has been extreme since always and this gap is threatened by the forces exhibited by the rich and the economically well off sections in the society. What is a normal good for one might be a luxury for the other. And where people are finding it hard to make both ends meet, the rich are spending lavishly and often much of the expenditure undertaken is a waste of resources that could have otherwise been used by the downtrodden. The basic idea is that in the end “inequality makes everyone unhappy, the poor most of all, and that is well within the remit of the state. More money gives less extra happiness the richer we get, yet we are addicted to earning and spending more every year.”

~ Another principle involved in the movie would be supply and demand though this principle is broader.
The basic supply of chocolate goes to the demander who are the consumers or the children and the people of London. There’s a supply of chocolates and a short supply of golden tickets thus people want to buy more chocolate to further increase their chances at getting a golden ticket. It leads to markets coordinating trades. Markets coordinate trade when industries control trade between the supplier and the consumer. In the movie this is done by the candy shops selling chocolate to the community the head supplier would be Willy Wonka and the markets that coordinate his trade are the candy shops that supply chocolate for the little kids. How the powerful invisible hands of demand and supply work has been effectively portrayed in the movie.

~ Trade makes people better off is another principle involved in Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. An example of this would be in the movie when Charlie gets bribed from slug worth to discover the secret to Willy Wonka’s everlasting gobstoppers, slugworth offers Charlie money for a secret to a candy recipe; this trade makes people better off. This is what leads to liabilities. Willy Wonka makes the kids sign a contract in the beginning that in any way he’s not liable for accidents in his factory; this makes Willy Wonka business smart.

~ The final and the most important principle highlighted in the movie is that future consequences count.
In the end of the movie Charlie decides to give Willy back his everlasting gobstopper and in return this decision alters Charlie’s overall benefits, Charlie receives the factory as a token of appreciation. This business trade off also ties in the factors of production which are land, labour and capital. The “umbaloopas” were the labour, the “factory” was the land, and the “chocolate” was the capital.

All of these principles contributed to the economics found in Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. So remember even chocolate has an economic value 😀

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