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Creating a ConstitutionLaw, Democracy, and Growth in Ancient Athens$
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Federica Carugati

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195636

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195636.001.0001

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Stability and Innovation in Athenian Policy

Stability and Innovation in Athenian Policy

(p.75) 3 Stability and Innovation in Athenian Policy
Creating a Constitution

Federica Carugati

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that the constitution fostered political stability and economic growth by imposing a set of constraints on the decision-making process based on the consensus on Solonian legality, while at the same time enabling citizens to introduce innovative new measures. To overcome evidentiary concerns, this chapter presents a model that reconstructs the incentives regulating actors' behaviour under the new constitutional rules. The model yields several results: first, institutional design incentivized proposers of new measures to take into account the preferences of the median, or the average Athenian. Moreover, because the median was relatively stable throughout the fourth century, preferences did not dramatically shift, ensuring a modicum of predictability and consistency over time. Another result is institutional design and actors' preferences that interacted to enable proposers of new measures to depart from the status quo, sometimes in significant ways. Finally, innovation was more likely to occur when sub-elite actors were involved in politics.

Keywords:   constitution, Solonian legality, Athenian, median, innovation, actor, politics

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