Does Rigidity Matter? Constitutional Entrenchment and Growth
46 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2020 Last revised: 21 Nov 2020
Date Written: October 1, 2020
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 1960 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, post-treatment effects on economic growth are generally small and statistically insignificant. However, when we examine a subsample that excludes autocracies, post- treatment effects are always negative and sometimes statistically significant. The same is true when we exclude treatments associated with coups. Contrary to many scholars’ priors, the evidence suggests that, if anything, 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: Suggested Citation