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Roman Law and EconomicsInstitutions and Organizations Volume I$
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Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci and Dennis P. Kehoe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787204

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198787204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2022

What Can the Endogenous Institutions Literature Tell Us About Ancient Rome?

What Can the Endogenous Institutions Literature Tell Us About Ancient Rome?

(p.13) 2 What Can the Endogenous Institutions Literature Tell Us About Ancient Rome?
Roman Law and Economics

Robert K. Fleck

F. Andrew Hanssen

Dennis P. Kehoe

Oxford University Press

A large and growing literature on “endogenous” institutions seeks to understand the circumstances under which institutions of particular types arise. One of the literature’s guiding principles is that, because institutions structure the incentives that members of a society face, if institutions are not well matched to a society’s circumstances—that is to say, not designed to inspire productive activities, broadly defined—the society will not thrive. We will discuss how this approach can help modern scholars understand the institutions of the Roman Empire, a society that clearly did thrive. The focus of this paper will be on the Roman imperial government’s policies that promoted the private ownership of land. These policies were crucial to the efforts of the Roman imperial government to create a class of landowners in the cities across the empire who would share in the burdens of ruling the empire. However, the extent to which landowners could dispose of their properties freely was limited by the overall constraints of an ancient agrarian economy and the fiscal requirements of the Roman state.

Keywords:   economics of ancient law, economics of ancient societies, endogenous institutions, economics of Roman law, Roman institutions, institutional analysis, indigenous institutions, private property rights, Roman agrarian economy, alienability of land

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