Working paper 04/109 - Abstract

Constitutional Rules (PDF, file 531 KB) (PDF, 531kB)

Toke S Aidt and Francesco Giovannoni

This paper proposes a normative theory of constitutional rules. The first-best cannot be achieved whenever constitutional rules cannot be made contingent on information about the costs and benefits of policy reforms. We characterize and welfare rank four classes of second best constitutions: constitutions that specify one rule for all types of decisions; constitutions that provide incentives for information about costs and benefits to be revealed; constitutions that allow for vetoes from interested parties and constitutions that specify different rules for different policy areas. In addition, we provide conditions for the existence of amendment rules that allow for changes to the original constitutional rules after the constitutional stage. Finally, we provide a new rationale for the existence of checks and balances.

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