The Size of the Economy and the Distribution of Income in the Roman Empire
Steven J. Friesen
affiliation not provided to SSRN
January 22, 2009
Different ways of estimating the Gross Domestic Product of the Roman Empire in the second century CE produce convergent results that point to total output and consumption equivalent to 50 million tons of wheat or close to 20 billion sesterces per year. It is estimated that elites (around 1.5 per cent of the imperial population) controlled approximately one-fifth of total income while middling households (perhaps 10 percent of the population) consumed another fifth. These findings shed new light on the scale of economic inequality and the distribution of demand in the Roman world.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: Roman economy, Roman GDP, Roman inequality
JEL Classification: N10, N13, O11working papers series
Date posted: November 14, 2008 ; Last revised: January 25, 2009
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