Rethinking Anti-Corruption Reforms: The View from Ancient Athens
Stanford Law School
June 6, 2011
Buffalo Law Review Vol. 62, No. 1, 2014
The ancient Athenian democracy was a model of economic and political development. This paper looks at Athens' various legal and institutional reforms for combating bribery. Unlike contemporary anti-corruption agendas, the Athenians treated anti-corruption reform as a process in democratization. Although it is impossible to measure the efficacy of their reforms, the historical record suggests that they were successful insofar as they fostered less disruptive patterns of corruption over time. To account for why this might have been the case, I examine one design feature essential to these reforms: the creation of a private right of action for "anyone who wanted" to prosecute a bribery suit. As I argue, this feature could have established a 'political' level of enforcement that eliminated the most disruptive patterns of corruption over time.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49
Keywords: Athens, democracy, corruption, bribery, institutional design, anti-corruption reform, enforcement, democratization, legal history
Date posted: February 4, 2012 ; Last revised: June 7, 2014
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