Public Choice

, Volume 161, Issue 1–2, pp 91–112 | Cite as

Constitutional verbosity and social trust

  • Christian Bjørnskov
  • Stefan VoigtEmail author


A common argument in the trust literature is that high-trust cultures allow efficient commercial contracts to be shorter, covering fewer contingencies. We take this idea to the topic of social contracts. Specifically, we ask whether social trust affects the length and detail of constitutions. Cross-country estimates suggest that national trust levels are indeed robustly and negatively associated with the length of countries’ constitutions.


Constitutional political economy Social trust 

JEL Classification

K40 Z13 



We thank Jerg Gutmann, two anonymous referees and the editors (Shugart and Kurrild-Klitgaard) of this journal for valuable comments on earlier versions. All remaining errors are entirely ours.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessAarhus UniversityAarhus VDenmark
  2. 2.Institute of Law and EconomicsUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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