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Ulysses and the Rent-Seekers: The Benefits and Challenges of Constitutional Constraints on Leviathan

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. A constitutionally constrained government may be viewed as an attractive arrangement in that it may limit the rent-seeking behavior by narrowly motivated special interest groups and instead support policies of a Pareto-improving character. However, the introduction of constitutional constraints may themselves turn out to be problematic, since institutional solutions to suboptimal arrangements presuppose that the agents are capable of overcoming problems of the very nature that the solutions are intended to overcome in the first place. This makes it unlikely that general interest promoting constitutional constraints on governments will be successfully adopted.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 68.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 06 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0068

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Keywords: rent-seeking; constitutions; institutions; self-interest; Prisoners' Dilemma; constraints;

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  1. Herschel I. Grossman, 1997. ""Make Us a King": Anarchy, Predation, and the State," NBER Working Papers 6289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Moselle, Boaz & Polak, Benjamin, 2001. "A Model of a Predatory State," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-33, April.
  3. Hampton, Jean, 1987. "Free-Rider Problems in the Production of Collective Goods," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 245-273, October.
  4. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, December.
  5. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2000. "The Constitutional Economics of Autocratic Succession," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 63-84, April.
  6. Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter, 1998. "The constitutional dilemma of European integration," MPRA Paper 35437, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2002. "Opting-Out: the Constitutional Economics of Exit," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 123-158, 01.
  8. Alvaro Montenegro, 1995. "Constitutional design and economic performance," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 161-169, June.
  9. Kurrild-Klitgaard Peter & Berggren Niclas, 2004. "Economic Consequences of Constitutions: A Theory and Survey," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-41, March.
  10. Robert H. Bates & Steven A. Block & Ghada Fayad & Anke Hoeffler, 2013. "The New Institutionalism and Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(4), pages 499-522, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2012. "Modeling constitutional choice: reflections on The Calculus of Consent 50 years on," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 152(3), pages 407-413, September.
  2. Justesen, Mogens K. & Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter, 2007. "The constitution of economic growth: Testing the prosperity effects of a Madisonian model on a panel of countries 1980‐2000," MPRA Paper 36063, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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