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The Economics of Green Constitutions


  • Imhof Sina
  • Gutmann Jerg
  • Voigt Stefan

    () (University of Hamburg, Institute of Law and Economics, Hamburg, Germany)


Over the last decades, more and more countries have integrated environmental protection into their constitution. In this article, we argue that a simple economic model can explain why some countries have adopted the legal innovation of constitutional environmental protection, while others have not. Environmental protection can be thought of as an investment that only pays off over the long term, and may even imply intergenerational redistribution to the advantage of future generations. Moreover, the adoption of constitutional environmental protection leads to the provision of public goods, which redistributes resources among all members of a society. Taken together, these arguments imply that democratic states with a culture that favors future-oriented behavior are more likely to entrench environmental protection in their constitution. We study the adoption of constitutional environmental protection in a panel dataset for 122 countries using semi-parametric survival analysis techniques. Our results suggest that future-oriented preferences are a robust determinant of a country’s propensity to adopt a green constitution. Political institutions are less important and do not exert a statistically significant effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Imhof Sina & Gutmann Jerg & Voigt Stefan, 2016. "The Economics of Green Constitutions," Asian Journal of Law and Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(3), pages 305-322, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:ajlecn:v:7:y:2016:i:3:p:305-322:n:4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Bjørnskov & Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2014. "Economic Growth and Institutional Reform in Modern Monarchies and Republics: A Historical Cross-Country Perspective 1820-2000," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 170(3), pages 453-481, September.
    2. Thomas Bernauer & Tobias Böhmelt & Vally Koubi, 2013. "Is There a Democracy–Civil Society Paradox in Global Environmental Governance?," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 13(1), pages 88-107, February.
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    1. repec:kap:copoec:v:28:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10602-017-9238-x is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    democracy; endogenous constitutional rights; environmental protection; future orientation; long-term orientation;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law


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