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Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England

  • Douglass C. North (a1) and Barry R. Weingast (a2)

The article studies the evolution of the constitutional arrangements in seventeenth-century England following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It focuses on the relationship between institutions and the behavior of the government and interprets the institutional changes on the basis of the goals of the winners—secure property rights, protection of their wealth, and the elimination of confiscatory government. We argue that the new institutions allowed the government to commit credibly to upholding property rights. Their success was remarkable, as the evidence from capital markets shows.

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Gordon Tullock , Autocracy (Dordrecht; 1987).

Barry R. Weingast and William Marshall , “The Industrial Organization of Congress; or Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets,” Journal of Political Economy, 96 (021988), pp. 132–63;

Terry Moe , “The New Economics of Organization,” American Journal of Political Science, 28 (081984), pp. 739–77.

Jeremy Bullow and Kenneth Rogoff , “A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt,” Journal of Political Economy, 97 (021989), pp. 155–78;

Robert Barro , “Government Spending, Interest Rates, Prices, and Budget Deficits in the UK, 1701–1918,” Journal of Monetary Economics, 20 (091987), pp. 221–48.

T. S. Ashton , An Economic History of England (London, 1955);

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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