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Institutions, Growth, and Inequality in Ancient Greece

  • Josiah OberEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 132)

Abstract

The characterization of the world of the ancient Greek city states as relatively poor and economically static has been refuted by recent advances in Greek economic history. The Greek world grew dramatically, compared to other premodern societies, both in population and per capita consumption from the age of Homer to that of Aristotle. By the fourth century BCE the city-state ecology was densely populated, and median consumption was well above bare subsistence. Athenian income inequality can be roughly measured using income and population estimates from late fourth century BCE. This paper argues that, at least in Athens, economic growth was accompanied by historically low levels of income inequality. Both economic growth and low inequality are explained by the development of citizen-centered political institutions. Growth, inequality, and institutions were important parts of the historical context in which Plato and Aristotle wrote. Attending to that context may elucidate some aspects of Greek political philosophy.

Keywords

Democracy Economy Equality Growth Institutions 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford UniversityPalo AltoUSA

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