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Consequences of Constitutions

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  • Torsten Persson

Abstract

The paper presents empirical findings regarding the economic policy consequences of constitutional arrangements, in three different dimensions. First, the data are consistent with several theoretical predictions about the consequences of electoral rules and forms of government for fiscal policy and rent extraction, even when non-random constitution selection is taken into account. Second, empirical tests of the predictions from a new comprehensive model of parliamentary democracy show that proportional elections raise government spending through their indirect consequences for party structures and types of government, rather than through their direct effects on policymaking incentives. Third, new empirical results suggest that constitutional arrangements may have important consequences for structural polices that promote long-run economic performance, hinting at a missing link in the causal chain from history to current economic performance. All these empirical findings appear statistically robust, and the estimated effects are large enough to be of genuine economic interest.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10170.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
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Publication status: published as Persson, Torsten. "Consequences of constitutions." Journal of the European Economic Association 2 (2004): 139-161.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10170

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  1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido & Trebbi, Francesco, 2001. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," CEPR Discussion Papers 2741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . ""The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives''," CARESS Working Papres 98-08, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  5. Yianos Kontopoulos & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Government Fragmentation and Fiscal Policy Outcomes: Evidence from OECD Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 81-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, December.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  8. Besley, Timothy J. & Case, Anne, 2002. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 3498, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gérard & Tabellini, Guido, 2004. "How do Electoral Rules Shape Party Structures, Government Coalitions and Economic Policies?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4226, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Roger B. Myerson, 1991. "Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Discussion Papers 956, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Persson, T. & Roland, G. & Tabellini, G., 1997. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Papers 633, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  12. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
  13. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2003. "New Data, New doubts: A Comment on Burnside and Dollar's "Aid, Policies, and Growth" (2000)," NBER Working Papers 9846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutions and Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 75-98, Winter.
  2. Samia Tavares, 2005. "Does Rapid Liberalization Increase Corruption?," Public Economics 0507003, EconWPA, revised 31 Aug 2005.
  3. Theo Eicher & Till Schreiber, 2006. "Structural Policies and Growth: Time Series Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Papers 48, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  4. Ugo Panizza, 2004. "Decentralising the public sector: What Drives Fiscal Decentralisation?," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(1), pages 21-25, October.
  5. Theo Eicher & Till Schreiber, 2010. "Institutions and Growth: Time Series Evidence from Natural Experiments," Working Papers UWEC-2007-15-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  6. John F. Helliwell & Haifang Huang, 2006. "How's Your Government? International Evidence Linking Good Government and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 11988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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