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Constitutional Rules

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  • Toke S Aidt
  • Francesco Giovannoni

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Abstract

This paper proposes a normative theory of constitutional rules. The first-best cannot be achieved whenever constitutional rules cannot be made contingent on information about the costs and benefits of policy reforms. We characterize and welfare rank four classes of second best constitutions: constitutions that specify one rule for all types of decisions; constitutions that provide incentives for information about costs and benefits to be revealed; constitutions that allow for vetoes from interested parties and constitutions that specify different rules for different policy areas. In addition, we provide conditions for the existence of amendment rules that allow for changes to the original constitutional rules after the constitutional stage. Finally, we provide a new rationale for the existence of checks and balances.

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File URL: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/CMPO/workingpapers/wp109.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 04/109.

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Length: 62 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:04/109

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Keywords: constitutions; social contracts; majority rules; bill of rights; vetoes; referenda; amendments; checks and balances;

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References

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  1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Foundations of Incomplete Contracts," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1846, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Salvador Barberà & Matthew O. Jackson, 2000. "Choosing How to Choose: Self-Stable Majority Rules and Constitutions," Working Papers 57, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2002. "Endogenous Political Institutions," NBER Working Papers 9006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hans Gersbach, 2002. "Democratic Mechanisms: Double Majority Rules and Flexible Agenda Costs," CESifo Working Paper Series 749, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Ticchi, Davide & Vindigni, Andrea, 2003. "Endogenous Constitutions," Seminar Papers 726, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  6. Matthias Messner & Mattias K. Polborn, 2004. "Voting on Majority Rules," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 115-132.
  7. Voigt, Stefan, 1997. " Positive Constitutional Economics: A Survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 90(1-4), pages 11-53, March.
  8. Giovanni Maggi & Massimo Morelli, 2006. "Self-Enforcing Voting in International Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1137-1158, September.
  9. Mueller, Dennis C, 1991. "Constitutional Rights," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 313-33, Fall.
  10. Giovannoni, Francesco, 2003. " Amendment Rules in Constitutions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(1-2), pages 37-61, April.
  11. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 38-67, 03.
  12. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Toke Aidt & Francesco Giovannoni, 2011. "Critical decisions and constitutional rules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 219-268, July.

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