US State constitutional entrenchment and default in the 19th century

John A. Dove, Andrew T. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Constitutional scholars emphasize the importance of an enduring, stable constitutional order, which North and Weingast (1989) argue is consistent with credible commitments to sustainable fiscal policies. However, this view is controversial and has received little empirical study. We use 19th-century US state-level data to estimate relationships between constitutional design and the likelihood of a government default. Results indicate that more entrenched and less specific constitutions are associated with a lower likelihood of default.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Institutional Economics
StateAccepted/In press - 2019


  • Default
  • constitutions
  • credible commitment
  • debt
  • entrenchment
  • fiscal crisis


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