The Endurance of National Constitutions
Cambridge University Press, 2009
12 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2010 Last revised: 12 Feb 2010
Date Written: January 14, 2010
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: Suggested Citation
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By Tom Ginsburg