“Sufficient” Social Fairness Provides Stability

  • Oleh Havrylyshyn
  • Nora Srzentić
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


It has become commonplace today to worry that excessive social inequity or even just perceptions thereof can reduce economic growth prospects through social discontent and instability. The popularity of work by Thomas Piketty goes well beyond the academic community in clarifying and raising awareness of this issue. For our purposes, whether like Ogilvie (2011) above, one considers income distribution and social support mechanisms as institutions or not, the effect on growth is analogous. We examine in this chapter how this modern-day issue played out in Mediaeval Ragusa, to what extent its economic success was also due to a wise policy of ensuring social well-being sufficient to ensure a high degree of stability, which in turn contributed to thriving economic activity. We begin in with the arguments by many historians and political scientists that indeed such social stability was achieved and that it was due to a relatively benevolent stance by the patricians towards not only rich merchants but also the low-income strata of Ragusa. The following section lists in detail the many different actions and policies of such a benevolent social programme, and then we attempt to delve deeper into the question of why the nobility were seemingly more benevolent than their counterparts in most other states. We summarize briefly in the final section.


Social Programme Social Stability Quarantine Station Social Fairness Public Education Expenditure 
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© Oleh Havrylyshyn and Nora Srzentić 2015

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  • Oleh Havrylyshyn
  • Nora Srzentić

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