Pensions & the State: A Chronic Headache

“EMPEROR AUGUSTUS came to power with the help of a private army. So he was understandably keen to ensure the loyalty of his soldiers to the Roman state. His bright idea was to offer a pension for those in the army who had served for 16 years (later 20), equivalent in cash or land to 12 times their annual salary. As Mary Beard, a classical historian, explains in her history of Rome, “SPQR”, the promise was enormously expensive. All told, military wages and pensions absorbed half of all Rome’s tax revenues.

The emperor would not be the last to underestimate the burden of providing retirement benefits.” (The Economist, 2016, p.21).


The Economist (2016) Pensions: Fade to Grey. The Economist. September 24th 2016, pp.21-22.


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