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The Frailty of Economic Reforms: Political Logic and Constitutional Lessons

Why are efficiency-enhancing reforms often frail and subject to being undermined over time? Two theories are examined: public-choice theory, which explains this as the possible result of a need, from time to time, to wipe the slate clean in order to retain productivity in the distribution of favors to interest groups, and a theory which acknowledges that politicians may implement reforms for ideological reasons but still, as time passes, be influenced by the logic of the political and media systems to abandon their initial aspirations. In any case, the demise of reforms is partly a function of the constitutional setting: rules which encourage shortsightedness and easy satisfaction of interest-group agendas make it difficult for decision-makers to withstand pressure for legislative change. Avenues to mitigate these problems through constitutional reforms are explored.

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Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 1.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0001
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  17. Richard E. Wagner, 1985. "Normative and Positive Foundations of Tax Reform," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 5(2), pages 385-406, Fall.
  18. Witt, Ulrich, 1992. " The Endogenous Public Choice Theorist," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(1), pages 117-29, January.
  19. Haggard, Stephan & Webb, Steven B, 1993. "What Do We Know about the Political Economy of Economic Policy Reform?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 143-68, July.
  20. Thomas S. McCaleb, 1985. "Public Choice Perspectives on the Flat Tax Follies," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 5(2), pages 613-628, Fall.
  21. FRED S. McCHESNEY, 1988. "The Cinderella School Of Tax Reform: A Comment On Rabushka," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 6(4), pages 65-69, October.
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  25. Klein, Daniel B., 1994. "If Government is so Villainous, How come Government Officials don't seem like Villains?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(01), pages 91-106, April.
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