The Economics of Green Constitutions
Posted: 18 Aug 2013 Last revised: 3 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2016
Over the last decades, more and more countries have integrated environmental protection into their constitution. In this article, we argue that a simple economic model can explain why some countries have adopted the legal innovation of constitutional environmental protection, while others have not. Environmental protection can be thought of as an investment that only pays off over the long term, and may even imply intergenerational redistribution to the advantage of future generations. Moreover, the adoption of constitutional environmental protection leads to the provision of public goods, which redistributes resources among all members of a society. Taken together, these arguments imply that democratic states with a culture that favors future-oriented behavior are more likely to entrench environmental protection in their constitution. We study the adoption of constitutional environmental protection in a panel dataset for 122 countries using semi-parametric survival analysis techniques. Our results suggest that future-oriented preferences are a robust determinant of a country’s propensity to adopt a green constitution. Political institutions are less important and do not exert a statistically significant effect.
Keywords: Environmental Protection, Endogenous Constitutional Rights, Democracy, Future Orientation, Long-term Orientation
JEL Classification: D02, D23, H41, K11
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