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Economic Development in Antiquity: The Greek World, 800–300 bce

Hoover Institution

Economic Development in Antiquity: The Greek World, 800–300 bce
Wed, 01/04/2023 – 14:25
Economic historians of long-term development tend to focus on the last few hundred years of human history. The reason is obvious: reliable data for earlier periods is scarce and difficult to interpret. Some historians have argued that nothing of interest to economists happened before about 1800; others have been willing to push the date back to 1700, or even 1600. But the ancient past was long regarded as an era of stagnation without measurable growth.

In 2002, Jack Goldstone published an influential paper calling attention to notable cases of “efflorescence,” defined as “a relatively sharp, often unexpected upturn in significant demographic and economic indices, usually accompanied by political expansion and institution building and cultural synthesis and consolidation.” Goldstone claimed, however, that “what all of these ‘high’ or ‘golden’ periods failed to do . . . was to sustain a sharply rising level of per capita income past two or three generations of population growth.” So, growth was soon followed by “stagnation or decline.”

The ancient Greek world, from about 800 to 300 bce represents a Goldstone-type efflorescence but far surpassed the expected lifespan of two …read more

Source:: Hoover Institution

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