Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 413–423 | Cite as

Arbitration in classical Athens

  • Bryan C. McCannonEmail author
Original Paper


The Classical Athenians developed two formal arbitration procedures. They assigned low stakes disputes to a panel of arbitrators, while high stakes cases were handled by a single arbitrator. Given the information aggregation benefit of collective decision making, one would have expected more individuals to be assigned to more important cases. I develop a theoretical model to provide an explanation for their design. Recognizing that arbitrator competence is endogenous, effort put into making a good decision takes time and effort. In larger groups free riding is a concern. Consequently, there exists environments where the free-riding loss is magnified in higher stakes disputes to the point where the socially optimal panel size is inversely related to the stakes involved.


Arbitration Athens Competence Condorcet Jury Theorem Free riding Group size 

JEL Classification

K4 H1 N44 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.West Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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