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Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes

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  • Chris Jeffords
  • Lanse Minkler

Abstract

We use a novel data set within an instrumental variables framework to test whether the presence and legal strength of constitutional environmental rights are related to environmental outcomes. The outcome variables include Yale’s Environmental Performance Index and some of its components. The analysis accounts for the possibility that a country which takes steps to protect the environment might also be more likely to constitutionalize environmental rights. Controls include: (1) gross domestic product per capita (2) whether the country is a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; (3) rule of law; (4) population density; and (5) exogenous geographic effects. The inclusion of income means that our study is directly related to the Environmental Kuznets Curve literature. We find that constitutions do indeed matter for positive environmental outcomes, which suggests that we should not only pay attention to the incentives confronting polluters and resource users, but also to the incentives and constraints confronting those policymakers who initiate, monitor, and enforce environmental policies.
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Suggested Citation

  • Chris Jeffords & Lanse Minkler, 2016. "Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 294-335, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:69:y:2016:i:2:p:294-335
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/kykl.12112
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    2. Lanse Minkler & Nishith Prakash, 2015. "The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-NationalInvestigation," Working papers 2015-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    5. Concetta Castiglione & Davide Infante & Janna Smirnova, 2012. "Rule of law and the environmental Kuznets curve: evidence for carbon emissions," International Journal of Sustainable Economy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 4(3), pages 254-269.
    6. Christopher Jeffords, 2011. "Constitutional Environmental Human Rights: A Descriptive Analysis of 142 National Constitutions," Economic Rights Working Papers 16, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    7. Joshua C. Gellers & Christopher Jeffords, 2015. "Procedural Environmental Rights and Environmental Justice: Assessing the Impact of Environmental Constitutionalism," Economic Rights Working Papers 25, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    8. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    9. Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Stanley L. Engerman, 2000. "Institutions, Factor Endowments, and Paths of Development in the New World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 217-232, Summer.
    10. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry, 2008. "Instrument Choice in Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(2), pages 152-174, Summer.
    11. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    12. Daron Acemoglu, 2005. "Constitutions, Politics and Economics: A Review Essay on Persson and Tabellini's "The Economic Effect of Constitutions"," NBER Working Papers 11235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Bhattarai, Madhusudan & Hammig, Michael, 2001. "Institutions and the Environmental Kuznets Curve for Deforestation: A Crosscountry Analysis for Latin America, Africa and Asia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 995-1010, June.
    14. Lorenz Blume & Stefan Voigt, 2007. "The Economic Effects of Human Rights," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 509-538, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:563-581 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Joshua C. Gellers & Christopher Jeffords, 2015. "Procedural Environmental Rights and Environmental Justice: Assessing the Impact of Environmental Constitutionalism," Economic Rights Working Papers 25, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:174:d:63948 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Lanse Minkler & Nishith Prakash, 2015. "The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-NationalInvestigation," Working papers 2015-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Nathalie Rühs & Aled Jones, 2016. "The Implementation of Earth Jurisprudence through Substantive Constitutional Rights of Nature," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-19, February.
    6. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis & Mulunda Kabange, Martin, 2018. "Constitutional instability and Poverty: Some Empirical Evidence," MPRA Paper 84501, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Elizabeth Kaletski & Lanse Minkler & Nishith Prakash & Susan Randolph, 2014. "Does Constitutionalizing Economic and Social Rights Promote their Fulfillment?," Economic Rights Working Papers 23, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    8. Alexi Thompson & Christopher Jeffords, 2017. "Virtual Water and an EKC for Water Pollution," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 31(3), pages 1061-1066, February.
    9. Chris Jeffords & Alexi Thompson, 2016. "An empirical analysis of fatal crimes against environmental and land activists," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(2), pages 827-842.
    10. repec:spr:lsprsc:v:10:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s12076-017-0186-x is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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