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"The Democratic Transition, with Special Application to Ancient Greece" Lecture by Andrew Hanssen, Clemson University, USA

The visit of Andrew Hanssen is organised in collaboration with Carmine Guerriero fromt the Department of Economics.

Jun 05, 2018 from 05:30 PM to 07:30 PM

Where Sala Rossa, Palazzo Marchesini, via Marsala 26, Bologna (first floor)

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Democracy is the modern world’s most successful form of government. Citizens of democracies indeed are richer and better educated on average than citizens of non-democracies, and enjoy more freedom and liberty. But despite these apparent advantages, many states have failed to transition to democracy. Furthermore, some of those that have transitioned subsequently transitioned back to non-democracy, while others have oscillated between democracy and non-democracy. Understanding the factors that promote or retard a durable transition to democracy is a key question.

In the ISA talk, Professor Hanssen will review several theories of democratic transition developed in recent years. He will then discuss the lessons that can be learned by applying those theories to the first democracies, those of ancient Greece. Greek city-states were not only democratic, but were highly successful. Classicist Josiah Ober estimates that the average Athenian enjoyed an income equivalent to that of the average citizen of the Netherlands circa 1700. Although the political institutions of ancient Greece differed in many ways from those of the modern world, Greek democracies had to wrestle with the same problems that modern democracies face, e.g., factionalism, rent-seeking. By exploring the underpinnings of democracy in the Greek world, we can better understand the factors that have led to successful democratic transitions in the modern world.