Endogenous Political Institutions
College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Alberto F. Alesina
Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Harvard Institute Research Working Paper No. 1957
Political institutions influence economic policy, but they are themselves endogenous since they are chosen, in some way, by members of the polity. An important aspect of institutional design is how much society chooses to delegate unchecked power to its leaders. If, once elected, a leader cannot be restrained, society runs the risk of a tyranny of the majority, if not the tyranny of a dictator. If a leader faces too many ex post
checks and balances, legislative action is too often blocked. As our critical constitutional choice we focus upon the size of the minority needed to block legislation, or conversely the size of the (super)majority needed to govern. We analyze both "optimal" constitutional design and "positive" aspects of this process. We derive several empirical implications which we then discuss.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 38
Date posted: October 22, 2002
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