I understand that this particular question is hard to answer. However, do there exist any historical record to how much was the GDP of Rome at some period? If not, could you give me a speculation or a guess of how much it was during the height of the Empire?

  • 3
    There is a series of strong scholarly arguments that this question is unanswerable due to the anachronism of GDP as a theoretical concept. Jul 29, 2015 at 7:55
  • @SamuelRussell There's also an argument that it depends so much on various assumptions and inputs that it's not applicable to the present day! ;) I still think this is a good and answerable question (it has my vote), just trolling you and TBBT a little
    – capet
    Oct 15, 2020 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


The Angus Maddison Project provides the following GDP per capita (in 1990 GK international dollars) estimates for regions within the Roman Empire in the year 1 CE:

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Population-weighted average is probably somewhere around 700*. There were around 45.5 million people in the Roman Empire in the year 14 CE.

So 45,500,000 * $700 = $31,850,000,000.

* Note I'm not too concerned with the exact average because these are all imprecise estimates anyway. But you can choose your own number between 600-800 to multiply by the population if you disagree with mine.

  • There is a very wide disagreement on the population of the Roman empire, not speaking of the per capita "GDP" which simply cannot be reliably estimated.
    – Alex
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:49
  • @Alex: For sure. Imprecision comes from deficiency of economic and population records as well as ambiguity in the concept of "GDP" and "1990 GK International Dollars." I added that footnote to emphasize the uncertainty inherent in this whole exercise but I could have emphasized it more . . . but I guess our comments will suffice for now
    – two sheds
    Jul 29, 2015 at 15:52

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