The Time Inconsistency of Long Constitutions: Evidence from the World


This paper analyses the mechanisms establishing time consistency of constitutions. It explains why shorter and more locked constitutions are more likely to be time consistent (change less).

Empirical evidence from all democratic countries in the world indicates that length and locking of constitutions are not independent criteria, and that their combination leads to less time consistency. To address this interrelationship, I develop a measure of time inconsistency (a combination of locking and amendment rate) and use this relationship to examine constitutional amendment.

Data on democratic countries around the world indicate that long constitutions are more time inconsistent (change more). Replicating Tsebelis and Nardi (2014) and their analysis of OECD member countries, I show that longer constitutions are associated with higher corruption and lower per capita income, a relationship that persists even when introducing economic control variables. However, this association does not remain consistent when the dataset is expanded to incorporate all countries in the world, because education and corruption are the most significant variables explaining GDP/capita.


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