Roman Population Size: The Logic of the Debate

37 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2008 Last revised: 10 Jun 2009

Date Written: July 2007


This paper provides a critical assessment of the current state of the debate about the number of Roman citizens and the size of the population of Roman Italy. Rather than trying to make a case for a particular reading of the evidence, it aims to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of rival approaches and examine the validity of existing arguments and critiques. After a brief survey of the evidence and the principal positions of modern scholarship, it focuses on a number of salient issues such as urbanization, military service, labor markets, political stability, living standards, and carrying capacity, and considers the significance of field surveys and comparative demographic evidence.

Keywords: Rome, Population, Demography, Historical Demography

JEL Classification: J10

Suggested Citation

Scheidel, Walter, Roman Population Size: The Logic of the Debate (July 2007). Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics Paper No. 070706, Available at SSRN: or

Walter Scheidel (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2145
United States

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