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Ancient Athenians, Californians and Modern Greeks: A Comparative Analysis of Choice Set Under Direct Democracy Procedures

Emmanouil-Marios-Lazaros Economou (), Nicholas C. Kyriazis and Theodore Metaxas ()
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Nicholas C. Kyriazis: University of Thessaly

Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, 2017, vol. 34, issue 1, No 4, 47-65

Abstract: Abstract In the present essay we examine decision-making and choice under direct democracy procedures, focusing on three famous examples: Themistocles’ Naval Law of 483/2 BCE, California’s Proposition 13 on taxation and modern Greece’s referendum of June 2015. They concerned, in a broad sense, the choice between the finance of public good(s) versus the increase in available personal income. We analyse the similarities and differences in the institutional setting, the means available for discussion and consensus-building and the actual outcomes, which were different in each case: in ancient Athens the outcome was in favour of the “public good” defense, in California it was in favour of an increase in available income and in modern Greece, it was of no consequence since the final actual outcome was contrary to the referendum. Lastly, we offer some thoughts regarding the different outcomes, which were dependent on the specific perceptions of each issue, the possibility of disaggregation of choice elements, the time horizon and historic context and the perception of citizens-voters, as to the “quality” of their government.

Keywords: Themistocles’ Naval Law; California’s Proposition 13; Greece’s referendum of June 2015; Decision-making; Consensus-building (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A14 H23 H41 H56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s41412-017-0039-2

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