Constitutions and Order: A Theory and Evidence from Colombia and the United States

47 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2023

See all articles by Leopoldo Fergusson

Leopoldo Fergusson

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Javier Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia; New York University--Abu Dhabi

James Robinson

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Santiago Torres

University of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 27, 2023

Abstract

We propose a framework to explain why some societies may end up with different constitutional solutions to the problem of maintaining order in the face of self-interested behavior. Though the salient intellectual tradition since Hobbes has focused on how institutional design is used to eradicate violence, our framework illustrates that equilibrium constitutions may in fact have to deliberately allow for violence. This arises because some societies are unable to use institutions to influence income distribution. In this case, a constitutional tolerance of violence emerges as a credible way for an incumbent to meet the participation constraint of a challenger. We illustrate the results with the comparative constitutional history of the US and Colombia.

JEL Classification: D70,D74,K10,P00

Suggested Citation

Fergusson, Leopoldo and Mejia, Javier and Mejia, Javier and Robinson, James and Torres, Santiago, Constitutions and Order: A Theory and Evidence from Colombia and the United States (July 27, 2023). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2023-105, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4523335 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4523335

Leopoldo Fergusson

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/uniandes?q=Leopoldo+Fergusson

Javier Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia ( email )

Carrera Primera # 18A-12
Bogota, DC D.C. 110311
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://www.uniandes.edu.co

New York University--Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

HOME PAGE: http://javiermejia.strikingly.com/

James Robinson (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Santiago Torres

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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