Engineering the Rule of Law in Ancient Athens
39 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2017
Date Written: February 22, 2017
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: Suggested Citation