The Roman dominate from the perspective of demographic-structural theory

David C. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article uses the theory of secular cycles to examine the Eastern and Western Roman Empires in roughly 285–700 CE. The analysis suggests that the Eastern Empire conforms to an almost ‘standard’ cycle during that time. The Western Roman Empire, on the other hand, appears to expand until 350 CE and then decline again, long before the Germanic invasions of the fifth century. This decline may have been due to elite dynamics and the extremely top-heavy social pyramid in the fourth century West. Elite overproduction and infighting may have cut short the West’s expansion phase and led to a premature decline. If correct, it is possible that demographic-structural theory explains the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-251
Number of pages35
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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