More Power to Government = More People Killed? – On Some Unexpected Effects of Constitutional Emergency Provisions during Natural Disasters
29 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 3, 2018
Today, 9 out of 10 constitutions contain explicit emergency provisions. Their purpose is to help governments cope with extraordinary events that endanger many people or even the existence of the state tout court. In this paper, we deal with two questions: (1) does the constitutionalization of emergency provisions help governments to cope with disasters and other extraordinary events? (2) Among the most common types of emergency constitutions, which ones fare best? We find that the more advantages emergency constitutions confer to the executive, the higher the number of people killed as a consequence of a natural disaster, controlling for its severity. Furthermore, the easier it is to call a state of emergency, the larger the negative effects on basic human rights. Interestingly, presidential democracies are better able to cope with natural disasters than parliamentary ones in terms of lives saved, whereas autocracies do significantly worse in the sense that empowerment rights seriously suffer in the aftermath of a disaster.
Keywords: constitutional emergency provisions, state of emergency, état de siege, regime transformation, positive constitutional economics
JEL Classification: K40, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation