How Did Slavery Affect Roman Economy

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How did slaves affect the daily Roman economy?

Inspired by the Greeks, the Romans instituted slavery on a widespread scale throughout their empire (Scheidel, 2010, p.2). Some scholars place the percentage of slaves in the entire population of the Roman Empire as high as 33% (Kamm, 2009a). Subsequently, the substantial scope of the slave practice had profound effects on the dynamics of the Roman economy. In my discussion forum post for this unit I will discuss the overall effect slavery had on the Roman economy.
In ancient times, when a civilization defeated a rival army in battle, instead of killing those on the losing side, it was common practice to punish the loser by enslaving them (Kamm, 2009a). Moreover, the Romans were no exception to this rule, employing captured slaves throughout their empire (Kamm, 2009a).
However, aside from ancient Greece, no other civilization has employed slave labor to such an extent as to make it the primary driving force behind the entire economy (Scheidel, 2008, p.105). Roman slaves and
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Labor saving technological advances which may have to served to augment the economic and overall growth of the empire did not occur secondary to the availability of slave labor (Kamm, 2009). This further served to stifle potential growth as technology would have served to reduce overhead, thereby opening business capital for expansion or investment (Fenner, n.d.). Moreover, with slave labor, Romans never sought to improve production techniques, develop efficient transportation technologies or discover new sources of energy, all of which may have provided for exponential economic growth (Fenner, n.d.). Additionally, according to Fenner (n.d.), for slaves in particular there existed little incentive for personal growth and development as slave laborers did not keep the “fruits of their
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