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Soldiers and booze: The rise and decline of a Roman market economy in north-western Europe


  • Eltjo Buringh
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden
  • Maarten Bosker

    (Universiteit Utrecht and Erasmus University Rotterdam)


This study quantifies the importance of the Roman military for the development of a market economy in north-western Europe. Distributions of low denomination coins show how the Roman arrival kick-started a local market economy. Additionally settlement densities of fluvial catchments are used as a proxy for economic development. Our newly constructed dataset of settlement sizes shows a high correlation with Roman military requirements. After the demise of the empire the local market economy faded away. This antique market economy had a different geographical distribution than its medieval successor, which was not mainly driven by military demand.

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  • Eltjo Buringh & Jan Luiten van Zanden & Maarten Bosker, 2012. "Soldiers and booze: The rise and decline of a Roman market economy in north-western Europe," Working Papers 0032, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0032

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    Cited by:

    1. Wahl, Fabian, 2015. "The long shadow of history: Roman legacy and economic development - evidence from the German limes," Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences 08-2015, University of Hohenheim, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences.
    2. repec:kap:jecgro:v:22:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9144-0 is not listed on IDEAS

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    market economy; historical development; Roman Empire; north-western Europe; inland waterway transport; coin finds;

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