Does Rigidity Matter? Constitutional Entrenchment and Growth
39 Pages Posted:
Date Written: May 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. Estimated post-treatment effects on economic growth are (1) generally not statistically significant, (2) sometimes negative and other times positive, and (3) in most cases small. A partial exception is when we examine a subsample excluding autocracy: post-treatment effects are always negative and sometimes statistically significant. Overall, though, we conclude that there is little evidence that rigidity matters.
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