Democracy in America: Labor Mobility, Ideology, and Constitutional Reform

48 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2007 Last revised: 6 Oct 2009

Roger D. Congleton

West Virginia University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice

Date Written: January 27, 2009

Abstract

Constitutional democracy in the United States emerged slowly through a longer series of constitutional reforms than most lawyers, economists, and political scientists appreciate. The first major reform was adopted in 1619, and reforms continued for the next three centuries. No evolutions or revolutionary threats were necessary or evident during most of the transition to constitutional democracy with universal adult suffrage. As in Europe, legislative authority gradually increased, wealth-based suffrage laws were gradually eliminated, the secret ballot was introduced, and the power of elected officials increased. This paper suggests that a theory of constitutional exchange grounded in rational choice models provides a good explanation for the distinctive features of American constitutional history, as it does for much of the West, although it does less well at explaining the timing of some reforms.

Keywords: constitutional history, constitutional exchange, public choice, U.S. Constitution, constitutional political economy

JEL Classification: D7

Suggested Citation

Congleton, Roger D., Democracy in America: Labor Mobility, Ideology, and Constitutional Reform (January 27, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1002462 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1002462

Roger D. Congleton (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - Department of Economics ( email )

PO Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

HOME PAGE: http://rdc1.net

George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://rdc1.net

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