What Constitutes a Constitutional Amendment Culture?
42 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 1, 2019
Why are some constitutions amended frequently while others hardly at all? An obvious candidate determinant is constitutional rigidity, i.e., the size and number of procedural barriers (e.g., supermajority approval) to amendment. Given some demand for amendment, greater rigidity implies a smaller supply. However, measures of rigidity often do not correlate significantly (or even with the predicted sign) with empirical amendment rates. Ginsburg and Melton (2015) argue that amendment culture – “shared attitudes about the desirability of amendment” – is a more important determinant of amendment rates. We study up to 214 constitutional episodes from 54 countries and estimate relationships between amendment rates and Hofstede cultural indices. Cultures that are more individualistic and long-term oriented are associated with higher amendment rates, as are cultures that are less prone to avoidance of uncertainty. When long-term orientation is controlled for, the lagged amendment rate (Ginsburg and Melton’s proxy for culture) no longer enters estimations significantly.
Keywords: constitutions, constitutional amendments, constitutional rigidity, constitutional design, culture, Hofstede indices
JEL Classification: K0, P50, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation