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Constitutions as Equilibria: A Game-theoretic Approach to Positive Constitutional Economics


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  • Kirstein, Roland
  • Voigt, Stefan


The aim of this paper is to derive conditions under which either dictatorship or the rule of law are the equilibria of a post-constitutional game. It thus contributes to positive constitutional economics, i.e., the research program that is interested in explaining the emergence of constitutions and their change over time. In our model, society is assumed to consist of two groups one of which has a comparative advantage in using violence. Violence can be used to produce (transactional) security as well as to exploit the weaker group, which has a comparative advantage in producing a private good. Yet, exploitation is limited: it increases the chances of a revolution and reduces the incentives of the exploited group to produce the private good. The model identifies the conditions under which the two groups will comply with a social contract which consists of the exchange of high effort in producing the private good against provision of security. We also identify conditions under which a social contract is cheap talk and exploitation occurs. -- Das Paper arbeitet Bedingungen heraus, unter denen entweder Rechtsstaat oder aber Diktatur Gleichgewicht eines post-konstitutionellen Spiels ist. Es stellt damit einen Beitrag zur Positiven Konstitutionenökonomik dar, dem Forschungsprogramm zur Erklärung der Entstehung und des Wandels von Verfassungen. In unserem Modell wird angenommen, daß die Gesellschaft aus zwei Gruppen besteht. Eine hat einen komparativen Kostenvorteil bei der Anwendung von Gewalt, die zur Produktion des öffentlichen Guts (Tausch-)Sicherheit benutzt werden kann, aber auch dazu, die schwächere Gruppe auszubeuten. Diese hat einen komparativen Kostenvorteil bei der Herstellung eines privaten Gutes. Das Ausmaß der Ausbeutung ist jedoch begrenzt, weil dadurch die Aussichten einer erfolgreichen Revolution erhöht werden. Außerdem vermindert Ausbeutung die Anreize der schwächeren Gruppe, das private Gut herzustellen. Das Modell zeigt die Bedingungen auf, unter denen die beiden Gruppen einen Sozialvertrag einhalten, der den Austausch eines hohen Produktionsniveaus gegen Sicherheit vorsieht. Außerdem werden die Bedingungen identifiziert, unter denen es zu Ausbeutung kommt, dieser Sozialvertrag also nur "cheap talk" ist.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Saarland University, CSLE - Center for the Study of Law and Economics in its series CSLE Discussion Paper Series with number 99-04.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:csledp:9904

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Keywords: Self-enforcing contracts; Rule of law; dictatorship; autocracy; Positive Constitutional Economics;

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