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The authors use the Economic Freedom Index (Gwartney, Lawson and Norton 2008) to characterise the institutions of ancient Athens in the fourth century B.C. They find that ancient Athens places itself at the top of the league in terms of economic freedom when compared with current societies. It is increasingly being recognized that ancient Greece witnessed improved living conditions for an extended period of time. Athens in the Classical period appears to fare particularly well. Studies of contemporary societies show that institutional quality is an important determinant of economic growth. It is then perhaps not surprising that Athens ranks not between Burkina Faso and Brazil, as one might have expected, but instead is better than both Belgium and Britain.
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