Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 68: Ulysses and the Rent-Seekers: The Benefits and Challenges of Constitutional Constraints on Leviathan

Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard ()
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Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard: University of Southern Denmark, Postal: Dept. of Political Science & Public Management, University of Southern Denmark, 55 Campusvej, DK 5230 Odense M, Denmark

Abstract: . A constitutionally constrained government may be viewed as an attractive arrangement in that it may limit the rent-seeking behavior by narrowly motivated special interest groups and instead support policies of a Pareto-improving character. However, the introduction of constitutional constraints may themselves turn out to be problematic, since institutional solutions to suboptimal arrangements presuppose that the agents are capable of overcoming problems of the very nature that the solutions are intended to overcome in the first place. This makes it unlikely that general interest promoting constitutional constraints on governments will be successfully adopted.

Keywords: rent-seeking; constitutions; institutions; self-interest; Prisoners' Dilemma; constraints

JEL-codes: D72

27 pages, April 6, 2005

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