The Administrative Foundations of Self-Enforcing Constitutions

10 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2008

See all articles by Yadira González de Lara

Yadira González de Lara

Universidad de Alicante

Avner Greif

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Saumitra Jha

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Abstract

Current theories of the rule of law argue that public officials respect rights if the citizens are coordinated on an equilibrium in which they collectively resist abuse. Constitutional rules are means to coordinate on this equilibrium. In past and present states, however, constitutional rules often have no effect on the rule of law. This paper suggests an alternative view of the origin and development of the rule of law. Instead of considering constitutional rules as coordination devices for citizens at large, history suggests considering them as manifestations of equilibria with rulers constrained by administrators required to implement policy. Analysis of the administrative foundations of self-enforcing constitutions may be the key to a theory and policy that would foster the rule of law in developing countries and those in transition. In particular, constitutional reforms might benefit from focusing on altering the equilibrium distribution of administrative capacity and power, providing incentives to the administratively powerful to check predation by each other and the central authorities, and to align administrators' interests with social welfare.

Keywords: self-enforcing constitutions, rule of law, administration, power

JEL Classification: N40, N20, K42, H10

Suggested Citation

González de Lara, Yadira and Greif, Avner and Jha, Saumitra, The Administrative Foundations of Self-Enforcing Constitutions. American Economic Review, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1085363

Yadira González de Lara (Contact Author)

Universidad de Alicante ( email )

Campus de San Vicente
Carretera San Vicente del Raspeig
San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante 03690
Spain

Avner Greif

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-725-8936 (Phone)

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Saumitra Jha

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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