War and Constitutions: A Bargaining Model

42 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013 Last revised: 12 Oct 2013

See all articles by John A. Ferejohn

John A. Ferejohn

NYU Law School

Frances McCall Rosenbluth

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 2013


We conceptualize the modern democratic republic - which combines the somewhat contradictory elements of property rights and universal franchise - as the result of bargaining in the face of military threat. Rich democracies converged on these two foundational pillars of modern constitutionalism because of their efficiency in mobilizing societal resources for war: property rights in exchange for money from the rich, and the right to vote in exchange for manpower from the masses. Once medieval monarchies exhausted their own reserves or their opportunities for plunder, they were forced to grant property rights in return for more resources - taxes or loans. With few and usually brief exceptions, universal male franchise emerged only later with full manpower mobilization, which for some states was the 20th century world wars.

Suggested Citation

Ferejohn, John A. and Rosenbluth, Frances McCall, War and Constitutions: A Bargaining Model (October 2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 13-59, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 13-31, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2303378 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2303378

John A. Ferejohn

NYU Law School ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
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2129986029 (Phone)

Frances McCall Rosenbluth (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States
203-432-5256 (Phone)

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