Vol. 7 No. 1 (2023)
Editor Reviewed Articles

Population and Steady-State Economy in Plato and Aristotle

Theodore Lianos
Athens University of Economics and Business

Published 2022-12-14 — Updated on 2023-02-03


  • Aristotle,
  • Plato,
  • steady state economy,
  • population

How to Cite

Lianos, Theodore. 2023. “Population and Steady-State Economy in Plato and Aristotle”. The Journal of Population and Sustainability 7 (1):123–138. https://doi.org/10.3197/JPS.63799953906862.


The basic ideas of the modern steady-state economy model can be found in the writings of the two major ancient Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Plato in his Laws and Aristotle in his Politics discuss the optimal relationship between population and available land that would give enough wealth to the city and allow the citizens to enjoy the best life. They discuss questions of income inequality and approaches to population control. The guiding thought in these models is what the two philosophers define as the ‘best life’.


Download data is not yet available.


  1. Aristotle, 2005. Politics. Cambridge, MA: Loeb Classical Library.
  2. Aristotle, 1947. ‘Nicomachean Ethics’, in R. McKeon (ed.) Introduction to Aristotle. New York: The Modern Library – Random House.
  3. Daly, H.E., 2008. A Steady-State Economy. UK: Sustainable Development Commission.
  4. Easterlin, R.A., 2001. ‘Income and happiness: Towards a unified theory’. Economic Journal 111 (473): 465–484. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0297.00646.
  5. Feen, R.H., 1996. ‘Keeping the balance: Ancient Greek philosophical concerns with population and environment’. Population and Environment 17 (6): 447–458. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02208335.
  6. Homer, 1920 [trans by Hugh G. Evelyn-White]. The Homeric Hymns and Homerica. New York: Williams Heinemann.
  7. Layard, R., 2003. Happiness: Has Social Science a Clue? Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures 2002/3, LSE.
  8. Lianos, T.P., 2016. ‘Aristotle on population size’. History of Economic Ideas 24 (2): 11–26.
  9. Mill, J.S., 1970. Principles of Political Economy. Middlesex: Penguin.
  10. Pimentel, D., Z.R Whitecraft, L. Scott et al., 2010. ‘Will limited land, water, and energy control human population number in the future?’ Human Ecology 38 (5): 599–611. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-010-9346-y.
  11. Plato, 2008/2013 [trans by B. Jowett]. Laws. The Project Gutenberg Ebook.