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The Transnational Origins of Constituions: Evidence From a New Global Data Set On Constitional Rights

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  • Goderis, B.V.G.
  • Versteeg, M.

    (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)

Abstract

Abstract Constitutions are commonly described as national products shaped by domestic politics. This paper develops and empirically tests a different hypothesis, which is that constitutions are also shaped by transnational influence, or “diffusion”. Constitutional rights can diffuse through four mechanisms: coercion, competition, learning and acculturation. To test diffusion, we traced the historical documents of all post-WWII constitutions and documented the presence of 108 constitutional rights. Using a sample of these rights in 180 countries between 1948 and 2001, we estimate a spatial lag model to explain their adoption. Our results show that countries follow the choices of their former colonizer, countries with the same legal origin, the same religion, the same former colonizer, and the same aid donor. We also find that diffusion explains only 3 percent of the variation in adoption. However, when a country adopts its first constitution, diffusion is much stronger and explains 46 percent of the variation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2013-010.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubcen:2013010

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Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

Related research

Keywords: constitutions; diffusion; human rights; spatial econometrics;

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  1. Besley, T. & Case, A., 1994. "Diffusion as a Learning Process: Evidence from HYV Cotton," Papers 174, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
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  10. Farber, Daniel A, 2002. "Rights as Signals," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 83-98, January.
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  12. Simmons, Beth A. & Dobbin, Frank & Garrett, Geoffrey, 2006. "Introduction: The International Diffusion of Liberalism," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(04), pages 781-810, October.
  13. McCleary, Rachel & Barro, Robert, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," Scholarly Articles 3710663, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2009. "Testing the neocon agenda: Democracy in resource-rich societies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 293-308, April.
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