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.