I’m writing a story where about 1/6 of the world population is moved out of the world (essentially killed off). The ones killed mostly held positions of power (i.e. Politicians, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, famous athletes/celebrities, etc). I’m wondering what would happen to society if 1/6 of the population was gone? Economically, what would happen? What would daily life/poverty rates be, especially in cities? What societal things would we lose? What would we keep? What would we gain? Could there still be electricity? Thank you!

(also not sure if 1/6 is the proper number. I’m trying to create a society that isn’t in total anarchy/dystopia yet, but is on the brink of it- poverty rates high, no real law or order, but still using money for the most part. At least, it’s like this in the cities.)


closed as too broad by StephenG, Rob Watts, L.Dutch, HDE 226868 Jun 2 '18 at 3:19

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1/6 of the USA population is about 54 million. All the politicians, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and athletes/celebrities in the USA add up to only about 3 million. Who are the rest? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jun 2 '18 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ And I suspect the U.S. has an unusually high percentage of those types; outside the U.S., there'd be far fewer lawyers, politicians (in countries with more centralized or less democratic gov'ts), doctors (assuming you mean graduate level trained), etc. $\endgroup$ – ShadowRanger Jun 2 '18 at 1:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. Your question has various issues: first of all, it is too broad. What happen to society is seriously broad. It would require an entire PhD in sociology to start an answer. Second you have a problem of definition: a disappearing CEO has different consequences than a disappearing NBA star (sorry to say, but sport stars have no power, just social influence) $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 2 '18 at 2:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually, this might be a duplicate. Check out worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/95815/… (disclaimer, it's taking you to my answer). $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 2 '18 at 4:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ IMHO - and I think that of a lot of other people - removal of politicians, lawyers, & celebrities would be a vast improvement. But as @user535733 points out, that's nowhere near 1/6 of the population. So who are the rest? Randomly selected, the highest or lowest income earners, people with/without college degrees...? Who the disappeared are could make a great difference. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 2 '18 at 6:50

This is a lot like what happened during the Black Death in Europe in the mid 1300's. Some of the decline in the aristocratic population increased upward social mobility and equality which is considered one of the causes of the Enlightenment.

(If you're not convinced this is true, you can read "The Silk Roads" by Peter Frankopan pages 186-190)

Edit in response to comments:

I'm not making sone logical argument above, I'm making factual statements, but if you really want me to explain more: limited resources such as land, raw materials, and access to capital became more available to a population that was generally in the prime of their lives, since the disease did select out the elderly (ie: today's politicians, doctors, and lawyers) and the very young (non-productive children, not relevant to the fictional scenario). When those who died needed to have their jobs filled by employers who survived, the previous social standard, that social status was immutable from birth, was shaken and people began to realize that they could rise due to merit. Today's upward mobility is the lowest it's been since the 1930's. Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/the-birth-of-a-new-american-aristocracy/559130/

After a brief period of adjustment (moslty as we train new doctors - assuming nurses survive, this wouldn't be that big a deal - and elect new politicians), the world would probably enter a period of improved equality and rising quality of life.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ black death didn't selected the victims only in upper classes. I don't see the equivalence $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 2 '18 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ It didn't have to select, it simply left their former assets abandoned such as houses and fields. It also created vacancies in the jobs markets for people who'd been kept out by the professional associations and licensing organizations of the day: guilds. $\endgroup$ – Glen Pierce Jun 2 '18 at 4:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ you miss the point of the question: if you have 10 upper class and 90 commoner and you kill 9 uppers and 0 commoners you unbalance the ratio from 10% to 1%. If you kill 9 uppers and 90 commoners the ratio stays the same. This last is what black death did. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 2 '18 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ Real wages went up - source: S. Pamuk "Urban Real Wages Around the Eastern Mediterranean in Comparative Perspective, 1100-200," Research in Economic History 12 (2005), 213-32 Life expectancy went up - source: S. DeWitte, "Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death" Plos One 9.5 (2014), 1-8. Diets improved - source: T. Stone, "The Consumption of Field Crops in Late Medieval England," in C. Woolgar "Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition" (Oxford, 2006), pp. 11-26. $\endgroup$ – Glen Pierce Jun 2 '18 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ you keep missing the point. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 2 '18 at 9:51

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.