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Constitutional rules as determinants of social infrastructure

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  • Eicher, Theo S.
  • García-Peñalosa, Cecilia
  • Kuenzel, David J.

Abstract

A sizable literature has established the positive impact of social infrastructure on economic development, but the determinants of social infrastructure itself have yet to be fully explored. Competing theories suggest a variety of political institutions as driving forces of social infrastructure, but the empirical literature has been hampered by the small set of available proxies, many of which are broadly defined. We leverage a new, comprehensive dataset that codes political institutions directly from countries’ constitutions. By employing a statistical methodology that is designed to juxtapose candidate regressors associated with many competing theories, we test each individual political institution's effect on social infrastructure. Our results show that constitutional rules pertaining to executive constraints as well as to the structure of electoral systems are crucial for the development of high-quality social infrastructure. We also find that the determinants of social infrastructure are much more fundamental than previously thought: not only the general structure of electoral systems matter, but also highly detailed aspects such as limits on campaign contributions and the freedom to form parties. Moreover, the granularity of our data allows us to highlight the profound effect of basic human rights on social infrastructure, a dimension which has not been explored in the literature to date.

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  • Eicher, Theo S. & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia & Kuenzel, David J., 2018. "Constitutional rules as determinants of social infrastructure," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 182-209.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jmacro:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:182-209
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2018.05.009
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    Cited by:

    1. Emanuela Carbonara & Giuseppina Gianfreda & Enrico Santarelli & Giovanna Vallanti, 2019. "The Impact of Intellectual Property Rights on Labor Productivity: Do Constitutions Matter?," Working Papers LuissLab 19151, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.

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    Keywords

    Constitutions; Institutions; Social infrastructure; Bayesian Model Averaging;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General

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