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Economic Effects of Post-Socialist Constitutions 25 Years from the Outset of Transition

The Constitutional Political Economy Approach


Katarzyna Metelska-Szaniawska

This book focuses on the nexus between constitutions adopted by post-socialist countries of Europe and Asia after 1989 and economic transition in the region. It takes the perspective of Constitutional Political Economy and argues for the role of constitutions as commitment-enhancing mechanisms for political decision makers in the field of post-socialist economic reforms. For the first time in economic studies of constitutions this book employs the synthetic control method – a novel empirical approach allowing to account for endogeneity and causality issues. The blend of theory (including evolutionary insights) and empirical results allows to formulate recommendations for constitution drafters, emphasizing the role of factual constitutional court independence for successful economic reforms.
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With this book we intended primarily to contribute to Constitutional Economics and, in particular, to its empirical dimension, in order to open the doors for shifting the respective theory to a higher generalization level. The central claim was that constitutional solutions, adopted by post-socialist countries after 1989, which enhanced the credibility and commitment of decision makers in the field of economic reforms conducted by these countries during the transition period, constituted a framework conducive to such reforms. The theoretical model, suggested in Chapter 1 on the basis of the existing Constitutional Economics and Political Economics literature, laying down the fundament for what could be called constitutional political economy of transition, or constitutional political economy of reform, indicated the role of constitutional constraints on discretionary power of political decision makers, as well as building the latter’s capacity to push through difficult reforms, for the constitutional commitment-enhancing mechanism to effectively support the reform process in post-socialist economies. We also suggested to concentrate the focus in this respect on the significance of structural provisions, bills of rights, as well as constitutional enforcement mechanisms. The overview of post-socialist constitutions presented in Chapter 2 revealed considerable variation in the solutions adopted in these areas by post-socialist countries, both in the de iure and de facto dimensions, rendering the studies of potential links between these constitutional rules and performance in the field of post-socialist economic reforms a particularly compelling research problem.

The results obtained from three empirical studies presented in Chapters 3...

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