Democracy, Hegemony, and War: New Data from the Ancient World

Jordan Adamson (Clemson University)
Mark Koyama (George Mason University)

Abstract : We examine the correlates of war by studying a large and newly compiled dataset on warfare in the ancient world (600 to 30 BCE). Our data allow us to test two main explanations for international peace: hegemony and democracy. First, we seek empirical support for the democratic peace outside of the modern period and find that the democratic peace is not an empirical regularity among Ancient Greek city-states. Second, we explore the relationship between relative state-sizes and war and find mixed results, both inside Greece and outside.

Breaking the Conflict Trap in Ancient Greece: Stasis and Economic Growth in the Polis

Scott Arcenas (Stanford University)

Abstract : The city-states of ancient Greece experienced high rates of both economic growth and what the Greeks called stasis—commonly translated as civil war. These two empirical findings confront ancient historians with an intriguing question: how are we to reconcile extraordinary rates of both political violence and economic growth? In this paper, I argue, against existing scholarship, that the historically distinctive dynamics of stasis—in particular, its high frequency and low intensity—made it a crucial contributor to, rather than an inhibitor of, economic growth. Relative to analogous forms of conflict in other pre-modern societies, stasis was more frequent but less intense. In many cases, the losing faction would flee into exile without suffering even a single casualty. The high frequency and low intensity of stasis forced ancient Greek elites to grapple with the likelihood that they would be forced into exile at some point in their lifetimes, and this expectation drove them to engage in risk mitigation strategies—e.g., investing in shipping, loans, and other asset classes that could not be easily expropriated by political opponents—that were growth-promoting, relative to the pre-modern norm of investing primarily in agriculture.

Civil War and Growth in the Ancient World: a Comparative Analysis

Federica Carugati (Indiana University)

Abstract : Is civil war bad for economic development? Empirical assessments of the impact of civil war on growth in the modern world suggest that civil war is bad for growth (Alesina et al., 1996; Collier, 1999; Kang and Meernik, 2005; Miguel and Satyanath, 2011). Comparative evidence from the ancient world suggests instead that civil war did not always hinder growth: in Athens (5th/4th century BCE) in Syracuse (5th-4th centuries BCE), and in Rome (2nd century BCE – 1st century AD) economic growth seems to have occurred under conditions of severe and protracted civil conflict. This paper employs a simple theoretical model to study the impact of civil war on political and economic structures (Collier, 1999) in order to identify the conditions that led to this unexpected result. The paper also raises some methodological questions germane to the study of the impact of civil war on ancient political and economic structures in a comparative perspective.