The Economy of the Early Roman Empire
Many inhabitants of ancient Rome lived well. Tourists marvel at the temples, baths, roads and aqueducts that they built. Economists also want to understand the existence of a flourishing and apparently prosperous economy two millennia ago. Market institutions and a stable government appear to have been the combination that produced this remarkable result. This essay provides an economist's view of the Roman economy that emphasizes the role of markets. I focus on the early Roman Empire, from 27 BCE to around 200 CE. I begin with some indications suggesting that the standard of living in ancient Rome was similar to that of early modern period of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary achievement for any economy in the ancient world. I then argue that ancient Rome managed to achieve this high standard of living through the combined operation of moderately stable political conditions and markets for goods, labor and capital, which allowed specialization and efficiency. After surveying the labor and financial markets in turn, I return to the broad questions of how the Romans prospered and the economy appears to have grown.
Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/jep/|
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:||Web: https://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
- Peter Temin, 2001. "A Market Economy in the Early Roman Empire," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _039, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
- Peter Temin, 2001. "A Market Economy in the Early Roman Empire," Economics Series Working Papers 2001-W39, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002.
"Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
- Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David, Paul A., 1967. "The Growth of Real Product in the United States Before 1840: New Evidence, Controlled Conjectures," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(02), pages 151-197, June.
- Goldsmith, Raymond W, 1984. "An Estimate of the Size and Structure of the National Product of the Early Roman Empire," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 30(3), pages 263-88, September.
- Temin, Peter, 1980. "Modes of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 175-195, June.
- Temin, Peter, 2002. "Price Behavior in Ancient Babylon," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 46-60, January.
- Temin, Peter, 2004. "Financial Intermediation in the Early Roman Empire," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(03), pages 705-733, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:1:p:133-151. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)or (Michael P. Albert)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.