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Measuring institutional quality in ancient Athens

Listed author(s):
  • BERGH, ANDREAS
  • LYTTKENS, CARL HAMPUS

We use the Economic Freedom Index (Gwartney, Lawson and Norton 2008) to characterise the institutions of ancient Athens in the fourth century BCE. It has been shown that ancient Greece witness improved living conditions for an extended period of time. Athens in the classical period appears to fare particularly well. We find that economic freedom in ancient Athens is on level with the highest ranked modern economies such as contemporary Hong Kong and Singapore. With the exception of the position of women and slaves, Athens scores high in almost every dimension of economic freedom. Trade was highly important even by current standards. As studies of contemporary societies show institutional quality to be an important determinant of economic growth, this may be one factor in the relative material success of the Athenians.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Journal of Institutional Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2014)
Issue (Month): 02 (June)
Pages: 279-310

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:10:y:2014:i:02:p:279-310_00
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  1. Milanovic, Branko & Lindert, Peter & Williamson, Jeffrey, 2007. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," MPRA Paper 5388, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Jac C. Heckelman, 2000. "Economic Freedom and Economic Growth: A Short-run Causal Investigation," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 3, pages 71-91, May.
  3. Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl, 2005. "Does free trade really reduce growth? Further testing using the economic freedom index," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 99-114, January.
  4. Dawson, John W, 1998. "Institutions, Investment, and Growth: New Cross-Country and Panel Data Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 603-619, October.
  5. Justesen, Mogens K., 2008. "The effect of economic freedom on growth revisited: New evidence on causality from a panel of countries 1970-1999," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 642-660, September.
  6. Christian Bjørnskov & Nicolai Foss, 2008. "Economic freedom and entrepreneurial activity: Some cross-country evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 307-328, March.
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