Engineering the Rule of Law in Ancient Athens

39 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2017

See all articles by Robert K. Fleck

Robert K. Fleck

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics

F. Andrew Hanssen

Clemson University - John E. Walker Department of Economics

Date Written: February 22, 2017

Abstract

Scholars typically regard the “rule of law” – a stable and predictable process by which laws are implemented, enforced, and changed – as a cornerstone of good governance and a key factor supporting economic growth. Yet establishing the rule of law involves a tradeoff: ex ante commitment is promoted, but potentially valuable ex post adjustments to new information are rendered more costly. We develop a model in which the value of using a stylized “law” to constrain future majority-rule decisions depends on expectations regarding the net social benefits and the distributional consequences of policy decisions. We apply the model to what was perhaps the first rule-of-law state: ancient Athens.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Ancient Greece, Institutions

JEL Classification: K00, D02, P48

Suggested Citation

Fleck, Robert K. and Hanssen, F., Engineering the Rule of Law in Ancient Athens (February 22, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2953688 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2953688

Robert K. Fleck

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 172920
Bozeman, MT 59717-2920
United States
406-994-5603 (Phone)
406-994-4838 (Fax)

F. Hanssen (Contact Author)

Clemson University - John E. Walker Department of Economics ( email )

Clemson, SC 29634
United States

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