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date: 21 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

The economic analysis of constitutions, also known as ‘constitutional economics’ or ‘constitutional political economy’ is a young research program. Standard economics used to focus on the analysis of choices within rules, thus assuming rules to be exogenously given and fixed. Constitutional economics broadens this research program by analyzing the choice of rules, using the established method of economics, i.e. rational choice. This article discusses the two broad research avenues in constitutional economics: the normative branch, which is interested in legitimizing the state and its most basic rules by drawing solely on the self-interest of rational individuals; and the positive branch, which is interested in explaining, firstly, the (economic) effects of alternative constitutional rules and, secondly, the emergence and modification of constitutional rules.

Keywords: constitutions, economic analysis, constitutional political economy, rational choice, constitutional economics, normative branch, positive branch

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