The Dinosaur Risk: A Fable of Civilizational Collapse

Posted: 27 Dec 2019

See all articles by Kaushik Basu

Kaushik Basu

Cornell University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Brookings Institution

Date Written: December 5, 2019


This is a descriptive paper that shows how a game of life we are engaged in can slowly change, and even improve in the sense of the same actions resulting in higher payoffs as time progresses. However, while this society keeps growing, in terms of payoffs increasing over time, the slow drift of the underlying game takes it towards a collapse by changing the game’s strategic character. This fable thus concerns our long-run survival and prompts us to do what dinosaurs were not capable of but we, in principle, are, which is to think about our own predicament and try to engineer changes in our own behavior and in market regulation to avert the risk of our own extinction.

Keywords: dinosaur risk, climate change, civilizational risk, Nash equilibrium, pollution tax

JEL Classification: A13, D60, H0, H41, I31, O44, Q01, Q50

Suggested Citation

Basu, Kaushik, The Dinosaur Risk: A Fable of Civilizational Collapse (December 5, 2019). Available at SSRN:

Kaushik Basu (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Brookings Institution ( email )

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