Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 19 No. 3 (Summer 2005)


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The Constitutional Dilemma of Economic Liberty

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Weingast, Barry R. 2005. "The Constitutional Dilemma of Economic Liberty." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(3): 89-108.

DOI: 10.1257/089533005774357815


This paper studies the problem of self-enforcing constitutions, addressing the question, how do some constitutions provide incentives for political officials to abide by the constraints announced in the constitution? To understand the mechanisms underlying successful constitutions, the paper begins by exploring a simple society facing the dilemma of policing the government: a sovereign, who controls the government, and two citizens. It then moves to a discussion of how constitutions are often formed out of crises, with some more detailed discussion of two main examples: England's Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the U.S. Constitution.

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Weingast, Barry R.


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