The Origin of Democracy in Athens
A new explanation of the origin of democracy is presented, motivated by historical observations from ancient Athens. It is argued that volatility in wealth across generations encouraged the elites to extend the franchise to nonelites. While being among the elite allows for the extraction of wealth from the nonelite, if there is a significant probability that one’s offspring will fall from the ranks of the elite, then the enfranchised may have the incentive to provide democracy. This proves an insurance for one’s offspring. Furthermore, providing this protection allows, in certain environments, an elite to consume more in his life.
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Volume (Year): 8 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
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References listed on IDEAS
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- Kaiser, Brooks A., 2007. "The Athenian Trierarchy: Mechanism Design for the Private Provision of Public Goods," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 445-480, June.
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- Nicholas Kyriazis, 2009. "Financing the Athenian state: public choice in the age of Demosthenes," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 109-127, April.
- Fleck, Robert K & Hanssen, F Andrew, 2006. "The Origins of Democracy: A Model with Application to Ancient Greece," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 115-146, April.
- Anastassios Karayiannis & Aristides Hatzis, 2012. "Morality, social norms and the rule of law as transaction cost-saving devices: the case of ancient Athens," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 621-643, June.
- Weil, Philippe, 1989. "Overlapping families of infinitely-lived agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 183-198, March.
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