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Endogenous Political Institutions

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  • Philippe Aghion
  • Alberto Alesina
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

Political institutions influence economic policy, but they are themselves endogenous since they are chosen, in some way, by members of the polity. An important aspect of institutional design is how much society chooses to delegate unchecked power to its leaders. If, once elected, a leader cannot be restrained, society runs the risk of a tyranny of the majority, if not the tyranny of a dictator. If a leader faces too many ex post checks and balances, legislative action is too often blocked. As our critical constitutional choice we focus upon the size of the minority needed to block legislation, or conversely the size of the (super) majority needed to govern. We analyze both 'optimal' constitutional design and 'positive' aspects of this process. We derive several empirical implications which we then discuss.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9006.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
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Publication status: published as Philippe Aghion & Alberto Alesina & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Endogenous Political Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 565-611, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9006

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