The Athenian Trierarchy: Mechanism Design for the Private Provision of Public Goods

The Journal of Economic History, 67(2), 445-480.

36 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2015

See all articles by Brooks Kaiser

Brooks Kaiser

Gettysburg College - Department of Economics; University of Southern Denmark - Department of Environmental and Business Economics; University of Hawaii - Economic Research Organization (UHERO)

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

The liturgical system in Classical Athens (479-322 BCE) privately provided public goods, including naval defense. I use it to evaluate mechanism design policies and to address uncertainties in the historical record by adding predictive economic theory to research by ancient historians. I evaluate the system’s success at meeting the conflicting goals of efficiency, feasibility, and budget balance by analyzing the Athenian citizens’ incentives within a game of asymmetric information. In the game, multiple equilibria occur; citizens may or may not volunteer for duty or avoid it. I relate the game theoretic findings to historical events.

Keywords: Ancient Greece, liturgy, trierarchy, mechanism design, public goods, institutions

JEL Classification: H40, N43, N33, P48

Suggested Citation

Kaiser, Brooks, The Athenian Trierarchy: Mechanism Design for the Private Provision of Public Goods (2007). The Journal of Economic History, 67(2), 445-480.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2559630

Brooks Kaiser (Contact Author)

Gettysburg College - Department of Economics ( email )

United States

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Environmental and Business Economics ( email )

DK-5230 Odense
Denmark

University of Hawaii - Economic Research Organization (UHERO) ( email )

2424 Maile Way, Saunders 540
Honolulu, HI 96822
United States

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