The Economic Effects of Constitutions: Replicating – and Extending – Persson and Tabellini
Persson and Tabellini (2003) show that presidential regimes and majoritarian election systems have important effects on fiscal policy, government effectiveness and productivity. Here, their dataset is extended in a number of ways: the number of countries included is increased from 85 to up to 116, and more recent data for both government effectiveness and productivity are used. In replicating and extending their analyses, we find that the effect of presidential regimes on all three groups of economic variables vanishes almost entirely. With regard to electoral systems, the original results are largely confirmed: majoritarian (as opposed to proportional) electoral systems lead to lower government expenditure, lower levels of rent seeking but also lower output per worker. The institutional details such as the proportion of candidates that are not elected via party lists and the district magnitude have proved to be of particular importance. The question whether societies can improve their lot by choosing specific constitutional rules remains open.
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