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

No 2004:19:
Athens – An Incidental Democracy. A case of unintended consequences of institutional change

Carl Hampus Lyttkens ()

Abstract: Around 600 B.C., Athens was ruled by a birth aristocracy. Some 150 years later, the city-state was a “democracy”. A rational-actor perspective, as perceived in the new institutional economics, sheds additional light on this intriguing transformation by focussing our attention on the incentives of individual actors, for example. Furthermore, it illustrates the unpredictable nature of the long-run consequences of institutional change. Repeatedly, a result of the intra-elite competition for power was that members of the elite unwittingly contributed to the changes that eventually undermined their own dominant position as a group.

Keywords: institutional change; unintended; democracy; Athens; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D72; N43; (follow links to similar papers)

55 pages, July 30, 2004, Revised November 19, 2004

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