IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Ulysses and the Rent-Seekers: The Benefits and Challenges of Constitutional Constraints on Leviathan




. A constitutionally constrained government may be viewed as an attractive arrangement in that it may limit the rent-seeking behavior by narrowly motivated special interest groups and instead support policies of a Pareto-improving character. However, the introduction of constitutional constraints may themselves turn out to be problematic, since institutional solutions to suboptimal arrangements presuppose that the agents are capable of overcoming problems of the very nature that the solutions are intended to overcome in the first place. This makes it unlikely that general interest promoting constitutional constraints on governments will be successfully adopted.

Suggested Citation

  • Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter, 2005. "Ulysses and the Rent-Seekers: The Benefits and Challenges of Constitutional Constraints on Leviathan," Ratio Working Papers 68, The Ratio Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0068

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2000. "The Constitutional Economics of Autocratic Succession," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 63-84, April.
    2. Tollison, Robert D, 1982. "Rent Seeking: A Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 575-602.
    3. Moselle, Boaz & Polak, Benjamin, 2001. "A Model of a Predatory State," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-33, April.
    4. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2002. "Opting-Out: the Constitutional Economics of Exit," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 123-158, January.
    5. Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter, 1998. "The constitutional dilemma of European integration," MPRA Paper 35437, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Kurrild-Klitgaard Peter & Berggren Niclas, 2004. "Economic Consequences of Constitutions: A Theory and Survey," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-41, March.
    7. Robert H. Bates & Steven A. Block & Ghada Fayad & Anke Hoeffler, 2013. "The New Institutionalism and Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(4), pages 499-522, August.
    8. Alvaro Montenegro, 1995. "Constitutional design and economic performance," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 161-169, June.
    9. Grossman, Herschel I., 2002. ""Make us a king": anarchy, predation, and the state," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-46, March.
    10. Hampton, Jean, 1987. "Free-Rider Problems in the Production of Collective Goods," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 245-273, October.
    11. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Justesen, Mogens K. & Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter, 2007. "The constitution of economic growth: Testing the prosperity effects of a Madisonian model on a panel of countries 1980‐2000," MPRA Paper 36063, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2012. "Modeling constitutional choice: reflections on The Calculus of Consent 50 years on," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 152(3), pages 407-413, September.
    3. Pál Czeglédi, 2014. "The theory of interventionism as an Austrian theory of slowdowns," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 419-449, December.

    More about this item


    rent-seeking; constitutions; institutions; self-interest; Prisoners' Dilemma; constraints;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0068. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Martin Korpi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.