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Fall of Rome - Reasons for the Fall of Rome Include the Economy and Hoarding

Economic Reasons for the Fall of Rome


Economic factors are cited as a major cause of the Fall of Rome. Some of the major factors, like inflation, are discussed elsewhere. But there were also lesser problems with the economy of Rome that combined together to escalate financial stress. These include:

  • Poor management,
  • The dole (bread and circuses), and
  • Hoarding.

Other Financial Problems

Collapse of the Roman Empire
In this article, Hugh Elton says that because the East survived when the West collapsed, institutional weakness and barbarian invasions, conditions common to both halves, are insufficient explanation for the Fall of Rome. Instead, Elton says the cause of the Fall of Rome lies in financial difficulties peculiar to the West. For those looking for a single cause, the best single explanation would be poor leadership rather than military failure.

The Dole and Barbarians

Why Rome
In this article, Grempel says the other side of Roman decadence was the dole. Millions were spent on bread (including pork, by the end of the second century) and circuses for the non-working poor. Barbarians ruled Rome and even when a Roman, Diocletian, regained control, he was influenced by the East. With Constantine came a barbaric Christianity and the move of capital from Rome to Constantinople.

Economic, Military, Gradual

Fall of Rome
This Ohio State site lists 3 single-issue models for the collapse:

  1. Economic (lack of circulating currency and trade deficit, and other factors not clearly economic, like environmental change and decaying infrastructure)
  2. Military (citizenship granted to all reduced the incentive to join the army), and
  3. Gradual transformation (it never fell or fell to Islam).

Economic - Hoarding and Deficit

Fall of Rome
Causes of the Fall of Rome include economic decay through hoarding of bullion, barbarian looting of the treasury, and trade deficit; military decay through attrition and disorganization; and the lack of an effective military leader.

"One of the primary catalysts to the deterioration of the economy was the lack of circulating currency in the Western Empire. Two reasons for the lack of funds are wholesale hoarding of bullion by Roman citizens, and the widespread looting of the Roman treasury by the 'barbarians'. These two factors, coupled with the massive trade deficit with Eastern Regions of the Empire served to stifle the growth of wealth in the west."~ The Economic Collapse

Rome and Roman Empire Maps

See Economic Reasons For the Fall of Rome - General for information on the effect of

  • Inflation
  • Land and
  • Feudalism
on the Fall of Rome.


Division of the Empire into Western and Eastern (Byzantine) and Lead

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