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The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-NationalInvestigation

Listed author(s):
  • Lanse Minkler

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Nishith Prakash

    (University of Connecticut)

We use novel historical data on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 195 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. Our OLS results suggest three findings. 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.

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2015-09.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2015-09.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2015
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2015-09
Contact details of provider: Postal:
University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063

Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

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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.
  2. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
  3. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-1150, July.
  4. Finn Tarp, 2006. "Aid and Development," Discussion Papers 06-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2009. "Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 55-87, July.
  6. Mark J. Roe & Jordan I. Siegel, 2009. "Finance and Politics: A Review Essay Based on Kenneth Dam's Analysis of Legal Traditions in The Law-Growth Nexus," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 781-800, September.
  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, 05.
  11. 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.
  12. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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.
  15. 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.
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