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Government, clubs, and constitutions

  • Leeson, Peter T.

This paper analyzes “constitutional effectiveness” – the degree to which constitutions can be enforced – in the system of government vs. the system of clubs. I argue that clubs have residual claimants on revenues generated through constitutional compliance, operate in a highly competitive environment, and permit individuals to sort themselves according to their governance needs. These features make their constitutional contracts self-enforcing. Government lacks these features. So its constitutional contract is not. Institutional augmentations that make government more club-like, such as federalism, democracy, and limited government scope, improve government's constitutional effectiveness. But constitutional effectiveness remains superior in the system of clubs.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 80 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 301-308

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:80:y:2011:i:2:p:301-308
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Voigt, Stefan, 1997. " Positive Constitutional Economics: A Survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 90(1-4), pages 11-53, March.
  2. Coase, R H, 1974. "The Lighthouse in Economics," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 357-76, October.
  3. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  4. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "Trading with Bandits," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 303-321.
  5. Peter T. Leeson, 2008. "Social Distance and Self-Enforcing Exchange," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 161-188, 01.
  6. Todd Sandler & John Tschirhart, 1997. "Club theory: Thirty years later," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3), pages 335-355, December.
  7. Martin C. McGuire & Mancur Olson Jr., 1996. "The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule: The Invisible Hand and the Use of Force," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
  8. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  9. Peter T. Leeson, 2009. "The Laws of Lawlessness," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 471-503, 06.
  10. Peter Leeson, 2009. "The calculus of piratical consent: the myth of the myth of social contract," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 443-459, June.
  11. Peter T. Leeson, 2008. "How Important is State Enforcement for�Trade?," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(1), pages 61-89.
  12. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1049-1094, December.
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