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Why Do Governments Call a State of Emergency? – On the Determinants of Using Emergency Constitutions

34 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017  

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Center for Political Studies; Institute for Corruption Studies

Stefan Voigt

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: June 16, 2017

Abstract

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

Bjørnskov, Christian and Voigt, Stefan, Why Do Governments Call a State of Emergency? – On the Determinants of Using Emergency Constitutions (June 16, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988014

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus V, DK-8210
Denmark

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Center for Political Studies

Landgreven 3
Copenhagen K, DK-1301
Denmark

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

Stefan Voigt (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law & Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany
+49-40-428385782 (Phone)
+49-40-428386794 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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