In the universe of Star Trek, there's said to be no use of money in the Federation (at least, not in Starfleet). They talk a lot about it in TNG; I don't want to get side-trekked into debating the best label for their system, but I have a few questions on their system.

  1. When did this economic system become adopted?
  2. When a new planet joins the Federation, are they forced to adopt this system?
  3. Is it just Starfleet or all of the Federation?
  4. Is there some sort of indoctrination or other mechanism whereby the Federation prevents lazy individuals from coasting through life, or is that the individual's perogative?
  • @WadCheber what you're thinking of is a Socialist country that's trying to make its way slowly over generations towards the ideal of Communism (pure communism has never really existed at the national level). Anyways, the important thing isn't the term. Call it whatever you like, I'm just curious about the economic system that they had on Star Trek.
    – Hack-R
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 2:25
  • I'd have to do a bunch of research for a properly cited answer, but it seems to me that people still own things, but that the unlimited energy and resources available to humanity mean that they don't need to bother paying to get new things. You can just go get it at the local replicator, as if it were fruit on trees in the jungle. Money does grow on trees, essentially. Also, society has evolved to the point where greed is exceedingly rare and people just take what they need, rather than hoarding for hoarding's sake.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 2:30
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    @Hack-R - take each of those 4 questions and ask them separately, as they all deserve good answers.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 2:42
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    See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/82763/… Also, there is a recent book "Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek".
    – user48960
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 2:47
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    – calccrypto
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 2:56

1 Answer 1


The Federation economy is not Communism - it is post-scarcity, as practically everything ultimately comes from almost infinitely abundant energy.

Communism is an attempt to share finite resources equally. Socialism is an attempt to ensure a minimum share of finite resources. Either way, there is an attempt to give even the lowliest manual labourers the same status and reward of higher professionals. Also, Communism is not simply an economy - it is an ideal: the removal of any kind of elite (ironically, all nations attempting Communism ended up creating a new elite).

The Federation has almost infinite resource.

Additionally, we do see most of the Federation through the lens of Starfleet, and it would make sense for the needs of Starfleet personnel to be met by the organisation to the extent that there is nothing wanting.

I do think you should ask those four questions separately, but here's some quick answers to think over:

  1. Probably about the time the Federation actually formed (22nd Century). For one thing, older races like the Vulcans would have probably had post-scarcity economies already (logically).

  2. It's probably more likely that they would have already reached post-scarcity before joining (there's usually some other caveats like the whole planet must agree to joining).

  3. Probably the whole Federation (especially looking at life on Earth)

  4. Well, in the west we're "indoctrinated" now to work hard and that sitting in an expensive house on a block of land with a pile of money in the bank is how we measure ourselves against others. In the Federation, people are educated to meet "the challenge and driving force then were to self-improvement, self-enrichment and the betterment of all humanity" - so, in the Federation, your value is based on how much better the world is with you around. You're not going to completely eliminate coasters, but the social pressure to be useful could be augmented by providing a minimum subsistence and then providing more access to replicators as a reward for societal contribution.

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    @Hack-R - when did the Klingons join the Federation?
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 3:41
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    its also extremely unrealistic to believe that they're somehow "beyond scarcity". They frequently engage in trade and most of their resources are scare by economic definition of the term. In Star Trek: Enterprise they even resorted to robbing other ships of warp coils when they ran out of supplies and failed to barter successfully.
    – Hack-R
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 3:42
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    @Hack-R - post-scarcity does not literally mean "there is no scarcity of any conceivable good whatsoever"--read the intro to the wikipedia article, it basically just means anyone can live a materially comfortable lifestyle without needing to work for it (unlike traditional communism, where people do need to work, just out of the goodness of their hearts--or more realistically, because the government compels them to--rather than the desire to make money).
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 4:46
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    It should be also noted that the Federation, as an organization, can simply create new warp coils. It isn't difficult for them to do because the infrastructure and expertise is in place. The crew of a ship might not be able to do that because of the lack of appropriate infrastructure and/or expertise. And ship crews tend to need things on short notices, so time and effort for the crew itself are also a factor.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 17:30
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    The ability to create stuff almost literally out of thin air would shove a lot of traditional economic thinking out the airlock. You can look at the Trek economy through the lens of contemporary nomenclature, but you can't really see what it it any more than we can visualize a hypercube. The Trek economy has superseded BOTH Capitalism and Communism. The natural human desire for competition has been channeled into athletics and academics and the "coasters" basically take themselves out of the equation. Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 15:08

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