George Alogoskoufis

Working Paper no. 4/2023, Department of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business


This paper reviews, analyses and interprets the history of the state and the economy of modern Greece, from the eve of the war for independence in 1821 to the present.

It identifies three major historical cycles, the cycle of state and nation building, 1821-1898, the cycle of national expansion and consolidation, 1899-1949, and the post-1950 cycle of economic and social development.

During these two hundred years, Greece managed to almost triple its national territory, to increase its population by almost 15 times and to increase its real GDP per capita by another 15 times.

Yet, Greece was also characterized by long periods of low economic growth and political and economic instability, including national ‘schisms’ and civil wars, high inflation, international over-indebtedness, and sovereign debt crises and defaults.

The analysis focuses on the key drivers of these developments, exploring the dynamic interactions of ideas and values, economic and social conditions, political and economic institutions, geopolitical circumstances and international economic and financial regimes.

The key drivers are summarised in the Table below.


This paper is part of a project on the Emergence of Modern Greece, and was first presented at the Harvard/Tufts Conference ‘New Perspectives on the Greek Revolution’, organized by Panayotis Roilos and Constantine Arvanitopoulos in September 2021. I wish to thank the organisers, conference participants, as well as Chrysafis Iordanoglou, Andreas Kakridis, Kostas Kostis, Sophia Lazaretou, Eleni Louri, Apostolis Philippopoulos and Ioanna Pepelasi for helpful discussions and comments.

© George Alogoskoufis