Does Rigidity Matter? Constitutional Entrenchment and Growth

European Journal of Law and Economics (forthcoming)

48 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2020 Last revised: 26 Oct 2021

See all articles by Justin T Callais

Justin T Callais

Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Students; University of Louisiana at Lafayette - Department of Economics and Finance

Andrew T. Young

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business

Date Written: October 25, 2021

Abstract

Should procedural barriers to constitutional amendment be more onerous than those to
the policy changes of ordinary politics? – i.e., should constitutions be entrenched? One criterion by
which to evaluate these questions is economic performance. Using data on countries worldwide and
constitutional adoptions from 1973 to 2017, we estimate the effect of constitutional entrenchment
(rigidity) on economic growth. We employ matching methods to make causal inferences. The
adoption of a constitution that is meaningfully more rigid than its predecessor defines a treatment.
In our benchmark estimations (based on 19 treatments), post-treatment effects on growth are
generally small and statistically insignificant. However, when we examine a subsample that excludes autocracies (13 treatments), post-treatment effects are always negative and sometimes statistically significant. The same is true when we exclude treatments associated with coups (12 treatments). Contrary to many scholars’ priors, the evidence suggests that, if anything (and based on the limited number of available treatments), greater entrenchment causes less economic growth.

Keywords: constitutions; entrenchment; constitutional rigidity; constitutional amendments; political economy; matching methods; economic growth; economic development

JEL Classification: O43; P00; P16; P48

Suggested Citation

Callais, Justin and Young, Andrew T., Does Rigidity Matter? Constitutional Entrenchment and Growth (October 25, 2021). European Journal of Law and Economics (forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3611249 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3611249

Justin Callais

Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Students ( email )

Box 42132
Lubbock, TX 79409-2132
United States

University of Louisiana at Lafayette - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Lafayette, LA 70504
United States

Andrew T. Young (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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