A predatory democracy? An essay on taxation in classical Athens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Predatory rule is defined here as a tendency to maximize state revenue, subject to the rulers′ relative bargaining power and transaction costs (Levi, M., 1988, Of Rule and Revenue. Berkeley: Univ. California Press; North, D. C., 1981, Structure and Change in Economic History. New York: Norton). I suggest that the implicit bargaining between Athenian "politicians" and the poor majority generated predatory rule and that this framework improves our understanding of taxation in democratic Athens. For example, it is shown that the choice of taxes and their organization served to economize on transaction costs and that the bargaining power of the rich together with the notion of quasi-voluntary compliance may help to explain the changes in taxation of wealth.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology
  • Economic History
  • Economics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-90
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Publication categoryResearch