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No 3:
Constitutionalism, Division of Power and Transaction Costs

Niclas Berggren and Nils Karlson

Abstract: According to many democracy theorists, there is an unavoidable trade-off between constitutionalism and the need for political action. This paper criticizes that belief. Rather, it argues that a division of power, while sometimes entailing high political transaction costs, can nevertheless be beneficial and that it is not necessarily the case that a division of power does entail high transaction costs. The analysis expands the framework of Buchanan and Tullock (1962). Constitutionalism is thus defended against one of its main perceived deficiencies: its bringing about gridlock. This does not always happen, and when it does, it is often a good thing.

Keywords: Political transaction costs; Constitutionalism; Political institutions; Division of power; Quality of political decision-making; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D70; H11; (follow links to similar papers)

26 pages, September 11, 2002

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This paper is published as:
Berggren, Niclas and Nils Karlson, (2003), 'Constitutionalism, Division of Power and Transaction Costs', Public Choice, Vol. 117, No. 1-2, pages 99-124

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