Why Do Governments Call a State of Emergency? – On the Determinants of Using Emergency Constitutions
34 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 16, 2017
States of emergency do not only imply a significant change in the balance of powers between the three branches of government, they are also very frequently declared: between 1985 and 2014, at least 137 countries were subject to at least one such event. This contribution is the first to systematically inquire into the factors determining such declarations. We find that constitutions matter. Countries without constitutionalized emergency provisions declare states of emergency significantly more often than countries with such provisions. We further find that it is crucial to distinguish between states of emergency declared as a consequence of a natural disaster from those declared as a consequence of political turmoil. Distinguishing between the costs of declaring an emergency and its benefits, we find that the less costly it is to declare an emergency, the more emergencies will be called on the grounds of natural disasters but not on the grounds of political turmoil. This is, hence, more evidence that constitutions matter. Finally, emergencies based on political turmoil are more likely to be declared if an economic crisis is hitting the country.
Keywords: State of Emergency, Emergency Constitutions, Natural Disasters, Power-Maximizing Politicians
JEL Classification: K40, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation