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The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation

Author

Listed:
  • Minkler, Lanse

    () (University of Connecticut)

  • Prakash, Nishith

    () (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

In this paper we use novel historical data on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 201 countries and an instrument variable strategy to answer two important questions. First, do economic and social rights provisions in constitutions reduce poverty? Second, does the strength of constitutional language of the economic and social rights matter? Constitutional provisions can be framed either more weakly as directive principles or more strongly as enforceable law. We find three important results. First, we do not find an association between constitutional rights generally framed and poverty. Second, we do not find an association between economic and social rights framed as directive principles and poverty. Third, we do find a strong negative association between economic and social rights framed as enforceable law and poverty. When we use legal origins as our IV, we find evidence that this result is causal. Our results survive a variety of robustness checks. The policy implication is that constitutional provisions framed as enforceable law provide effective meta-rules with incentives for policymakers to initiate, fund, monitor and enforce poverty reduction policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Minkler, Lanse & Prakash, Nishith, 2015. "The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 8877, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8877
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
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    7. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2010. "Post-1500 Population Flows and The Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682.
    8. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    9. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth Since World War II," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 835-864.
    10. Chris Jeffords & Lanse Minkler, 2016. "Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 294-335, May.
    11. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    12. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    13. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Wen, Yi & Luo, Jinfeng, 2015. "Institutions Do Not Rule: Reassessing the Driving Forces of Economic Development," Working Papers 2015-1, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 01 Jun 2017.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua C. Gellers & Christopher Jeffords, 2015. "Procedural Environmental Rights and Environmental Justice: Assessing the Impact of Environmental Constitutionalism," Economic Rights Working Papers 25, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    2. repec:bla:worlde:v:40:y:2017:i:10:p:2032-2055 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Christopher Jeffords, 2015. "A Panel Data Analysis of the Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities and Water Sources," Economic Rights Working Papers 24, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    4. Elizabeth Kaletski & Lanse Minkler & Nishith Prakash & Susan Randolph, 2014. "Does Constitutionalizing Economic and Social Rights Promote their Fulfillment?," Economic Rights Working Papers 23, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.
    5. Chris Jeffords & Lanse Minkler, 2016. "Do Constitutions Matter? The Effects of Constitutional Environmental Rights Provisions on Environmental Outcomes," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 294-335, May.
    6. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis & Mulunda Kabange, Martin, 2018. "Constitutional instability and Poverty: Some Empirical Evidence," MPRA Paper 84501, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic and social rights; constitutions; enforceable law; directive principles; poverty; instrumental variables; legal origin;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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