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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: March 2014

12 - The formation of states and transitions to modern economies:


This chapter explores whether capitalism existed in ancient Greek between circa 800 BCE and the Common Era. Reintegrating the economies of the past, those of Babylon or those of classical antiquity, into the debate on capitalism presents a series of advantages. It is sufficient to justify the place of ancient Greece in a world history of capitalism, both for the comparative evidence it provides for later and more elaborate economic developments. Although figures or evaluation will be constantly an object of debate, the reality of growth is beyond doubt, and this totally changes the picture of a stagnant society of the old paradigm. Archaeological evidence points not only to population growth but also to growth of per capita production and consumption. By massively increasing the aggregate input of labor, slavery was one of the basic factors of accelerated economic growth in the classical and Hellenistic world.

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A comprehensive bibliography, which includes references to economic theories of fiscal state formation and the fiscal histories of the United Kingdom and other European states, is included in O’Brien (2011a) and Casalilla and O’Brien (2012).

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