Economy and Quality of Life

Walter Scheidel

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Economy and Quality of Life

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Among Roman historians, the resultant picture of a highly localised, fragmented, and largely agrarian economy that sustained a thin veneer of coerced transfers and trade in luxuries and a network of towns dominated by landowning elites was most effectively challenged by Keith Hopkins, who put greater emphasis on dynamic processes and the probable scale of exchange. This has coincided with a revival of empiricist critiques of what one might call the ‘low-equilibrium’ model of the economy of Rome, marshalling data thought to be indicative of economic diversification or growth but often lacking in theoretical conceptualisation. Most recently, a growing awareness of the key issues involved in the historical study of economic growth and a push for systematic quantification have opened up promising new perspectives on the Roman economy. This article discusses Roman economic history and quality of life, use of qualitative and quantitative approaches to assess Roman economic development, structural determinants of economic performance, and human development as a determinant of human well-being (demography and quality of life).

Keywords: Rome; economy; quality of life; demography; human development; human well-being; economic development; structural determinants; economic history; economic performance

Article.  6911 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical History ; Ancient Roman History

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