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Department of Economics, Lund University Working Papers, Department of Economics, Lund University

No 2001:17:
The origins of the Polis. An economic perspective on institutional change in ancient Greece 1000-600 B.C.

Carl Hampus Lyttkens ()

Abstract: From a beginning of small isolated settlements, the city-state (polis) emerged in Greece in the course of four centuries as a political, geographical and judicial unit, with an assembly, council, magistrates and written laws. Using a rational-actor perspective, it is shown how this process was driven by competition among the members of the elite. A crucial ingredient was the gradual consolidation of boundaries, which contributed to population growth, inter-state conflicts, colonisation and a more fierce competition for power. Variations over time in the conditions for competition explain both the introduction of formal political institutions and their overthrow by tyrants.

Keywords: institutional change; ancient Greece; city-state; competition; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D23; N43; P14; P16; (follow links to similar papers)

38 pages, September 15, 2001, Revised September 30, 2004

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This paper is published as:
Lyttkens, Carl Hampus, (2006), 'Reflections on the origins of the polis. An economic perspective on institutional change in ancient Greece', Constitutional Political Economy, Vol. 17, No. 1, pages 31-48



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