The Endurance of National Constitutions

12 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2010 Last revised: 12 Feb 2010

See all articles by Tom Ginsburg

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

James Melton

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zachary Elkins

University of Texas, Austin

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Date Written: January 14, 2010

Abstract

Constitutions are supposed to provide an enduring structure for politics. Yet most die at a young age, and we estimate the average life expectancy to be only 19 years. Why is it that some constitutions endure while others do not? In this book, we examine the causes of constitutional endurance from an institutional perspective. Supported by an original set of cross-national historical data, the volume is the first comprehensive study of constitutional mortality. We show that, while constitutions are imperiled by social and political crises, certain aspects of a constitution’s design can lower the risk of death substantially. Thus, to the extent that endurance is desirable – a question that we also subject to scrutiny – the decisions of founders take on added importance. This introductory chapter lays out the argument of the book.

Keywords: constitutions, comparative law

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Ginsburg, Tom and Melton, James and Elkins, Zachary, The Endurance of National Constitutions (January 14, 2010). Cambridge University Press, 2009; U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 511. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1536925

Tom Ginsburg (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

James Melton

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Zachary Elkins

University of Texas, Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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