Other than a single reference to money in DS9: "Necessary Evil" (which could well be edited away without hurting any story arc), I don't remember the Bajoran economy being portrayed as being based on money as a universal unit of exchange (nor, in fact, on commodity exchange in general).

Is the structure/basis of the Bajoran economy established officially? Is the reference to "Bajoran litas" sound, and based on off-screen canon documents?

I should mention that we don't see any Bajoran bankers, nor Bajoran industrialists, Bajoran "latifundistas" (large land-owners) etc. This insinuates there is little concentration of capital, which would not be the case in a money-based economy (although, granted, that depends on the writers' political views).

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    – DavidW
    Jun 4 '20 at 15:49
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    @DavidW: If land was for sale, then Bajor was pretty much full-blown Capitalist.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 4 '20 at 18:58
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    "Bajoran litas" are also from the episode "Necessary Evil", the transcript here has a line from Odo where he says "Interestingly, every one of them has transferred exactly one hundred thousand Bajoran litas into her bank accounts within the last twenty six hours." I don't understand what you mean by "off-screen canon documents" though--nothing off-screen is normally considered 100% canonical in Trek AFAIK.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jun 4 '20 at 22:04
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    @Hypnosifl: I mentioned the episode in the question...
    – einpoklum
    Jun 4 '20 at 23:01
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    @Hypnosifl: The "show bible", or show-runners' memos, would effectively be canonical.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 4 '20 at 23:10

Probably... maybe?

I have very, very little evidence to go off of, and hopefully someone will be able to post a better answer than this.

My thinking on this is based almost entirely on the DS9 episodes Progress (season one, episode 15), Shakaar (season three, episode 24) and Bar Association (season four, episode 16). And it's still patchy.

My evidence from Progress is as basic and thin as it gets. There is a line from a ship captain that Jake and Nog are trying to bargain with:

CAPTAIN: I'll give you a hundred gross of self-sealing stem bolts. Some Bajoran ordered them from me, and now he can't pay.

Perhaps not the best evidence, given that the Bajoran couldn't pay, but would be pretty brazen to order goods physically transported via freighter without even a possibility of rendering payment. And this captain draws a distinction between paying and trading:

NOG: And they can be yours for say, five bars of gold-pressed latinum.

CAPTAIN: That's a lot of latinum.

NOG: That's a lot of yamok sauce.

CAPTAIN: Look, I'm not carrying any latinum. But I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll trade you something for it.

This is weak stuff-- but the word pay strongly suggests currency rather than barter, even though latinum itself may be a commodity rather than currency (I've never been totally clear on its role in the setting, outside of Ferengi society). But regardless of whether or not the Bajoran stem bolt orderer would have paid in latinum or some other means of exchange, it seems likely that they intended to pay in some form of currency.

This means nothing with regard to the Bajoran economy-- there's no particular reason to think that he would have necessarily been paying in Bajoran currency, if such a thing even exists. But season one takes place not too long after the occupation ended, and if the Bajoran intended to pay in money he must have gotten some negotiable currency of some kind from somewhere. Bajor is the best candidate.

In Bar Association, Quark is upset about the Bajoran Time of Cleansing (during which Bajorans fast and abstain from worldly pleasures) because it has seriously harmed his business. If we assume that Quark is telling the truth about this (which is not necessarily sound, but his bar does appear to be pretty empty), that suggests a couple of things:

  • Bajorans make up a substantial portion of Quark's business
  • Bajorans on Deep Space 9 have money to spend, demonstrated by the fact that they sometimes do so at Quark's

So Bajorans must get that spending money from somewhere. They could, of course, work for non-Bajoran interests which pay them in money-- Quark's dabo girls are frequently Bajorans, and in Bar Association they are definitely working for pay. But Bajor is just getting back onto the scene in the Alpha Quadrant after the occupation, and I'm not aware of any evidence that a substantial number of Bajorans are employed in non-Bajoran enterprises. They could be bartering for Quark's services, but I don't know of any evidence for that, either.

There's even a line of dialogue suggesting that Bajorans spend money at Quark's, when Leeta reminds everyone of Quark's loss leader for dabo:

LEETA: Why don't you try your luck at dabo wheel? Remember, every Bajoran gets one free spin.

One free spin for each Bajoran (DS9 resident/worker or not). And since it's a casino game, it won't make any money off of free spins-- people have to make wagers for Quark to have a shot at profiting. And a loss leader offer is an enticement to spend money elsewhere, be it non-free spins of the wheel, food and drink, or holosuites. Therefore it stands to reason that Quark sees opportunity for profitable business with individual Bajorans, generally, suggesting that individual Bajorans have something to offer Quark for his services. The easiest generally valuable thing (to Quark) that any random Bajoran would be able to offer is some kind of money.

This argument is far from iron-clad. Bajorans come to DS9 from Bajor pretty frequently, but we don't know how much of Quark's clientele are such visitors. They could just as easily be primarily people living and working on DS9, getting money from the various interests that pass through the station in an economy largely separated from Bajor's.

But I submit that the easiest and most parsimonious conclusion is that Bajor itself has some sort of economy based around something money-like enough that it can be used reliably for routine transactions, such as eating, drinking, gambling, and enjoying holosuites, to the extent that a business' finances could depend on it.

In Shakaar, farming is a key element of the conflict driving the episode's plot. In particular there are references connecting the farming both to feeding Bajor's population as well as seemingly little coordination among autonomously governed provinces:

SHAKAAR: I don't give a damn how the rest of the galaxy looks at us. We're trying to feed our own people here and you're talking about exports.

If the farming conditions being poor (which they are, due to Cardassians poisoning farmland) could lead to a meaningful lack of food on Bajor, then Bajor has not reached the radical post-scarcity conditions which led to humanity choosing to do away with money.

That doesn't mean they need to use money, of course, but something needs to organize their society and production if scarcity is still a thing for them. In Accession (season four, episode 17) we learn that Bajorans no longer adhere to hereditary castes (which might have afforded enough social and economic organization). I can't think of any explicit descriptions of anything else which might suit those needs (which includes no evidence for money doing it!).

All quotes retrieved from chakoteya.net



Bar Association

  • I'd say that most of your evidence concerns Latinum and the on-station/off-world economy. About the food situation on Bajor - that is some evidence, but remember Bajor was in a much more advanced state before the occupation, so post-occupation food shortages are not a good enough indication. So all in all - I'll +1 but not accept.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 4 '20 at 22:56

Is the reference to "Bajoran litas" sound, and based on off-screen canon documents?

Cursory Googling for the series bible turned up this document, however it has multiple things wrong with it:

  1. I can't tell if it's official, although it certainly looks like something the studio might have created. Reddit seemed to think it was legit when they discussed it. Since I can see no obvious reason for someone to fake it, I'm going to proceed on the assumption that it is real.
  2. It is dated 12 June 1992, which is well before "Emissary" entered production (in August), and it shows (e.g. Dr. Bashir is "Dr. Amoros", and he "[m]ay have an accent depending on casting"). So while it might have been canonical at some point, it probably isn't anymore. Honestly, it comes across more as a series pitch (aimed at the network) than a day-to-day reference (for the writers).
  3. Skimming it, I could find no reference to the Bajoran economy, except in general terms relating to the overall condition of the planet (e.g. "[The Cardassians] have not left quietly -- in revenge for the years of terrorism, the Cardassians ravaged the planet, poisoned wells, scorched the ground[...]"). It is not OCR'd, so I was unable to do a full-text search for "lita."

My conclusion is that, if this is based on off-screen canon documents, they were probably a more recent revision, possibly issued after the episode was written (or at the very least, after they had finished casting and finalized the characters). In general, it's hard to find such documents publicly, so I'm skeptical that we will ever reach full closure on this question.

In my personal opinion, it doesn't really matter what the series bible says, because canon is what appeared on TV, not what the writers and producers wanted to appear on TV. But this is obviously subjective, and I expect plenty of people to violently disagree with that assertion.

  • Just because it's not in the show's pitch doesn't mean it's not found elsewhere in other documents. For example in the show script
    – Valorum
    Jun 5 '20 at 19:57
  • @Valorum: Since the script is (mostly) line-for-line identical to what actually aired, which didn't seem to satisfy the OP, I thought I'd introduce a different source. I'm not claiming it's not found in any other documents whatsoever, just that we're not likely to find a series bible in particular (or any other "off-screen canon documents" - a script is not "off-screen") to support this claim.
    – Kevin
    Jun 5 '20 at 20:25

Bajor has yet to be a member of the federation so yes they did have money "Lita" I believe they were called. However having or Not having a currency isn't a prerequisite of Federation membership.

  1. Voyager episode: Janeway purchased a Vulcan meditation lamp (and got jacked on the price) Which suggests Vulcan has a currency
  2. Quark initiated repeated financial transactions with Federation/Starflee personnel on DS9 for years........
  3. In TNG: Encounter at Farpoint: Doctor Crusher purchased a Roll of fabric and asked it to be charged to her "Account".
  4. DS9 mentions the Bank of Bolias. Which means the Bolian homeworld (Federation member) has a financial institution.
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    Note: "lita" was in the question.
    – DavidW
    Jun 4 '20 at 18:44
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    Humankind, particularly on Earth, doesn't use money, but is that a feature (whether or not a hard requirement) of Federation membership?
    – Upper_Case
    Jun 4 '20 at 18:52
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    There's no reason why Federation membership would be a precondition to a money-based economy. Also, you're repeating information I gave in the question.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 4 '20 at 18:57
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    I think the federation is happy to have any culture as long as they aren't warring on other cultures or doing something insanely cruel. Jun 4 '20 at 19:30
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    @MarkRogers very specific rules and a lengthy approval process have been alluded to in various episodes Jun 4 '20 at 20:15

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