Abstract

The available evidence on wages and labor contracts supports the existence of a functioning labor market in the early Roman empire, in which workers could change jobs in response to market-driven rewards. Slaves were included in the general labor market because Roman slavery, unlike that in the United States and in Brazil, permitted frequent manumission to citizen status. Slaves' ability to improve their status provided them with incentives to cooperate with their owners and act like free laborers. As a result, the supply and demand for labor were roughly equilibrated by wages and other payments to most workers, both slave and free.

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