In the Hunger Games books and films, the nation of Panem is split rather sharply into two:

  • the Districts, populated mainly by underfed and overworked people who spend their lives mining coal (12), chopping wood (7), toiling in the fields (11), making electronics (3), etc.

  • the Capitol, populated apparently by overfed and indulgent layabouts who spend their lives gossiping about fashion and watching the Hunger Games on television.

That gives us the working class and the upper class. What about the middle class? Every empire needs its bureaucrats, administrators, people in offices doing paperwork. Where do such people come from? This demographic doesn't seem to fit either the Capitol or the Districts.

Let's exclude (Catching Fire / Mockingjay spoilers)

District 13, which seems to be an entire mini-society of its own, incorporating workers, soldiers, administrators, and a president, and organised on a militaristic basis. For the first two books/films at least, the Capitol and the other twelve Districts function as a country by themselves.

  • 5
    “Every empire needs its bureaucrats, administrators, people in offices doing paperwork.” Public telephone sanitisers... Nov 28, 2015 at 1:48
  • 1
    I thought the same thing. This calls for a H2G2/ Hunger Games crossover fanfic xD
    – Pwassonne
    Nov 28, 2015 at 12:14

2 Answers 2


Not sure that there is actual "office" work (as other answers noted, the whole nation is pretty small and administratively unsophisticated - YET, has access to computers to do most "paper pushing" that's needed), but it seems to be split between:

  • Local managers seem to be local (District 12's Mayor, and presumably, all his staff, what little there seems to be of it).

  • People doing middle-class work Capitol seem to be local to Capitol (designers, Audio/Video geeks - like those who later served with Katniss in District 13 - and other assorted engineering and media types)

  • Some of the administration seems to be done by Peacekeepers, who are a mix of Capitol oversight and District 1 muscle, and sometimes locals (as was in District 12 in the first book).


It's never mentioned in the books. The books are written entirely from Katniss' POV, and she only has contact with fellow slaves and people directly associated with producing the Games, at least until the last book.

Logically, there would have to be middle-class types, but not as many as you might think. It has to be emphasized that Panem is small, not much more than a couple million people total and the vast majority of them are essentially slaves. Unless one of the worker-slaves stands out (either by being useful or a troublemaker) the only records to track for the worker-slaves would be birth, occupation, and death. The books don't indicate any population-wide surveillance. The district-level grade schools would serve to pick out the gifted and the potential troublemakers. With a decent computer system the small remainder of the population wouldn't require much management, either. There's no free trade or commerce as we know it, only goods transferred from district to district as needed, probably centrally controlled from the Capitol. Yes, all of this has to be administered but it's a very stripped-down, basic society. No taxes since you only get what the Capitol lets you have in the first place. No insurance or driver's licenses. No medical care for the vast majority. Heck, no lawyers or legal system!

I imagine the middle-class households would have in-home computer schooling for basic reading/writing/math skills, followed by buying into an apprenticeship for advanced career training. That sort of system would fit the strict class-based society of Panem. Unfortunately none of this is addressed in the books, which are generally soft on nuts-n-bolts details.

  • "the only records to track would be birth, occupation, and death" - that's records of people. What about commodities? Transporting goods from the Districts to the Capitol needs organisation. How do people get their wages? Like any good dystopian society, the Capitol seems to be hot on surveillance, watching people all the time (at least in the films; it's been a few years since I read the books). Aren't records kept of the footage? Etc.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 28, 2015 at 14:20
  • It's perhaps not central to your answer, but I have to point out the glaring omission here: Katniss wasn't chosen for the games in the first book - she volunteered in place of Prim. And in the second book Katniss was the only eligible female victor, so there is nothing suspect in her being chosen for the Quarter Quell (you could argue that the "only victors are eligible for the Quarter Quell" thing seems too convenient, and the film goes out of the way to suggest it was fixed, but that's all about central Capitol surveillance and control, and contradicts the point you were making). Nov 29, 2015 at 19:41
  • @The Giant of Lannister: I had forgotten about K taking Prim's place. Since the books don't cover the details of Panem's government, it's all speculation anyway; I just got on a roll.
    – Joe L.
    Nov 29, 2015 at 22:27

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