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Consequences of Constitutions

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  • Torsten Persson

Abstract

The paper presents empirical findings regarding the economic policy consequences of constitutional arrangements, in three different dimensions. First, the data are consistent with several theoretical predictions about the consequences of electoral rules and forms of government for fiscal policy and rent extraction, even when non-random constitution selection is taken into account. Second, empirical tests of the predictions from a new comprehensive model of parliamentary democracy show that proportional elections raise government spending through their indirect consequences for party structures and types of government, rather than through their direct effects on policymaking incentives. Third, new empirical results suggest that constitutional arrangements may have important consequences for structural polices that promote long-run economic performance, hinting at a missing link in the causal chain from history to current economic performance. All these empirical findings appear statistically robust, and the estimated effects are large enough to be of genuine economic interest.

Suggested Citation

  • Torsten Persson, 2003. "Consequences of Constitutions," NBER Working Papers 10170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10170
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10170.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    2. 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.
    3. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
    4. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1121-1161, December.
    5. 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.
    6. Yianos Kontopoulos & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Government Fragmentation and Fiscal Policy Outcomes: Evidence from OECD Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 81-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2003. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 958-989, June.
    8. Nicola Persico & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2001. "The Provision of Public Goods under Alternative Electoral Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 225-239, March.
    9. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2003. "How Do Electoral Rules Shape Party Structures, Government Coalitions and Economic Policies?," Working Papers 251, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    10. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, March.
    11. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
    12. Myerson Roger B., 1993. "Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 118-132, January.
    13. William Easterly & Ross Levine & David Roodman, 2003. "New Data, New doubts: A Comment on Burnside and Dollar's "Aid, Policies, and Growth" (2000)," NBER Working Papers 9846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Paul F. Whiteley (ed.), 0. "Economic Policy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 996, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Eicher, Theo S. & Schreiber, Till, 2010. "Structural policies and growth: Time series evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 169-179, January.
    2. Theo Eicher & Till Schreiber, 2010. "Institutions and Growth: Time Series Evidence from Natural Experiments," Working Papers UWEC-2007-15-P, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:ces:ifodic:v:2:y:2004:i:1:p:14567694 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Helliwell, John F. & Huang, Haifang, 2008. "How's Your Government? International Evidence Linking Good Government and Well-Being," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(04), pages 595-619, October.
    5. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutions and Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 75-98, Winter.
    6. Ugo Panizza, 2004. "Decentralising the public sector: What Drives Fiscal Decentralisation?," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(1), pages 21-25, October.
    7. Samia Tavares, 2005. "Does Rapid Liberalization Increase Corruption?," Public Economics 0507003, EconWPA, revised 31 Aug 2005.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General

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