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Political Institutions and Policy Outcomes in Colombia: The Effects of the 1991 Constitution

  • Mauricio Cardenas
  • Roberto Junguito
  • Mónica Pachón

The 1991 Colombian Constitution strengthened the checks and balances of the political system by enhancing the role of Congress and the Constitutional Court, while somewhat limiting the powers of the President (who nonetheless remains extremely powerful even by Latin American standards). As a consequence of the larger number of relevant players, and the removal of barriers that restricted political participation, the political system has gained in terms of representation. However, political transaction costs have increased, making cooperation harder to achieve. We show that this has been typically the case in fiscal policy, where the use of rigid rules, the constitutionalization of some policies, and a reduction in legislative success rates-due to the presence of a more divided and fragmented Congress-have limited the adaptability and flexibility of policies. In contrast, in other areas of policy that were formally delegated to the technocracy, such as monetary policy and regulation of public utilities, policies have been more adaptable to economic shocks, delivering better outcomes.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 3198.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3198
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  1. Hernan Rincon Castro & Jennyberthel & Miguelgomez, 2004. "Balance Fiscalestructural Y Cíclico Del Gobierno Nacional Central De Colombia,1980-2002," ENSAYOS SOBRE POLÍTICA ECONÓMICA, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ESPE.
  2. Robert H. Bates, 1998. "Open-Economy Politics: The Political Economy of the World Coffee Trade," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 6067, April.
  3. Cardenas, Mauricio & Barrera, Felipe, 1997. "On the effectiveness of capital controls: The experience of Colombia during the 1990s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 27-57, October.
  4. Mariano Tommasi & Pablo T. Spiller & Ernesto Stein, 2003. "Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes, and Policy Outcomes. An Intertemporal Transactions Framework," Working Papers 59, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jul 2003.
  5. J. Mark Payne & Carles Boix & Alícia Adserà, 2000. "Are You Being Served?: Political Accountability and Quality of Government," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6478, Inter-American Development Bank.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Alesina, Alberto & Trebbi, Francesco, 2004. "Endogenous Political Institutions," Scholarly Articles 4481498, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Levitt Steven & Mauricio Rubio, 2000. "Understanding crime in Colombia and what can be done about It," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 003735, FEDESARROLLO.
  8. Carlos Esteban Posada & Carlos Caballero Argáez, 2003. "Una Nota Sobre Los Elementos Coyunturales Y Estructurales Del Deficit Fiscal En El Caso Colombiano Reciente," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 003718, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  9. Pablo T. Spiller, 2003. "The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy: A Transactions Approach with Application to Argentina," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 281-306, October.
  10. Sebastián Edwards & Roberto Steiner, 2000. "On The Crisis Hypothesis of Economic Reform: Colombia 1989-91," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 37(112), pages 445-493.
  11. Mauricio Cardenas & Zeinab Partow, 1998. "Oil, Coffee and the Dynamic Commons Problems in Colombia," Research Department Publications 3033, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  12. Mauricio Cárdenas & Zeinab Partow, 1998. "Oil, coffee and the dynamic commons problems in Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009206, FEDESARROLLO.
  13. Juan Carlos Echeverry & Leopoldo Fergusson & Pablo Querubin, 2004. "La Batalla Política Por El Presupuesto De La Nación: Inflexibilidades O Supervivencia Fiscal," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 002944, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  14. Kugler, Maurice & Rosenthal, Howard, 2000. "Checks and balances: an assessment of the institutional separation of political powers in Colombia," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0018, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
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