Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 353–369 | Cite as

Implementing Generality while Reducing the Risk for Fiscal Explosion

  • Niclas Berggren


The generality principle, advocatedby Buchanan and Congleton (1998), requires that political decisionstreat all citizens equally qua citizens. The effects of implementingsuch a constitutional rule on lobbying, public expenditures,economic efficiency, and disposable incomes are explored. Themain contribution is to propose a way of mitigating potentiallynegative effects not discussed by Buchanan and Congleton, especiallythe risk for “fiscal explosion.” It is suggested that if generalityis augmented with a rule stating that public expenditures asa share of GDP are not to rise, this will probably render generalitymore attractive than non-generality for most citizens.


Generality Principle Economic Efficiency Public Expenditure Disposable Income Constitutional Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alt, J. E.. and Lowry, R. C. (1994) “Divided Government, Fiscal Institutions, and Budget Deficits: Evidence from the States. ” American Political Science Review 88(4): 811–27.Google Scholar
  2. Berggren, N. (1999) “A Preference-Utilitarian Foundation for the Generality Principle. ” Constitutional Political Economy 10(4): 339–53.Google Scholar
  3. Berggren, N., and Bergström, F. (1999) “A Constitutional Analysis of Arbitrariness in Economic Policy Making. ” In: Berggren, N., Karlson, N., and Nergelius, J. (eds) Makt utan motvikt [Power without Counterpoise], 155–88, Stockholm: City University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bergström, F. (1998) “Essays on the Political Economy of Industrial Policy. ” Ph.D. dissertation. Stockholm: The Economic Research Institute.Google Scholar
  5. Bornefalk, A. (2000) “Constitutional Constraints and Redistributive Activities. ” In: Essays on Social Conflict and Reform. Ph.D. dissertation. Stockholm: The Economic Research Institute.Google Scholar
  6. Boudreaux, D. J. (1998) “What Is the American Constitution?” The Freeman 48(7).Google Scholar
  7. Brennan, G., and Buchanan, J. M. (1980) The Power to Tax: Analytical Foundations of a Fiscal Constitution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brennan, G., and Kliemt, H. (1990) “Logo Logic. ” Constitutional Political Economy 1(1): 125–27.Google Scholar
  9. Buchanan, J. M. (1959) “Positive Economics, Welfare Economics, and Political Economy. ” Journal of Law and Economics 2: 124–38.Google Scholar
  10. Buchanan, J. M. (1967). Public Finance in Democratic Process: Fiscal Institutions and Individual Choice. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  11. Buchanan, J. M. (1980) “Reform in the Rent-Seeking Society. ” In: Buchanan, J. M., Tollison, R. D., and Tullock, G. (eds) Toward a Theory of the Rent-Seeking Society. College Station: Texas A & M University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Buchanan, J. M. (1993) “How Can Constitutions Be Designed So That Politicians Who Seek To Serve 'Public Interest' Can Survive?” Constitutional Political Economy 4(1): 1–6.Google Scholar
  13. Buchanan, J. M. (1999) “Why Do Constitutions Matter?” Lecture presented at the City University of Stockholm conference “The Constitutional Challenge, ” September 1.Google Scholar
  14. Buchanan, J. M., and Congleton, R. D. (1998) Politics by Principle, Not Interest: Toward Nondiscriminatory Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Congleton, R. D. (1997) “Political Efficiency and Equal Protection of the Law. ” Kyklos 50(4): 485–505.Google Scholar
  16. Cowen, T. (ed.) (1988) The Theory of Market Failure: A Critical Examination. Fairfax: George Mason University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Crain, W. M., and Tollison, R. D. (eds) (1990) Predicting Politics: Essays in Empirical Public Choice. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  18. Fölster, S., and Henrekson, M. (1997) “Growth and the Public Sector: A Critique of the Critics. ” Working paper No. 492, The Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Stockholm.Google Scholar
  19. Fölster, S., and Henrekson, M. (1998) “Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries. ” Working paper No. 503, The Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Stockholm.Google Scholar
  20. Gwartney, J., Lawson, R., and Holcombe, R. (1998) The Size and Functions of Government and Economic Growth. Washington, D.C.: The Joint Economic Committee of Congress.Google Scholar
  21. Haggard, S., and Webb, S. B. (1993) “What Do We Know about the Political Economy of Economic Policy Reform?” The World Bank Research Observer 8(2): 143–68.Google Scholar
  22. Harberger, A. C. (1993) “Secrets of Success: A Handful of Heroes. ” American Economic Review 83(2): 343–50.Google Scholar
  23. Henrekson, M. (1996) “Sweden's Relative Economic Performance: Lagging Behind or Staying on Top?” The Economic Journal 106(439): 1747–59.Google Scholar
  24. Keeler, T. E. (1984) “Theories of Regulation and the Deregulation Movement. ” Public Choice 44: 103–45.Google Scholar
  25. Klein, D. B. (1994) “If Government Is SoVillainous, How Come Government Officials Don't Seem LikeVillains?” Economics and Philosophy 10: 91–106.Google Scholar
  26. Krol, R. (1997) “A Survey of the Impact of Budget Rules on State Taxation, Spending, and Debt. ” The Cato Journal 16(3): 295–307.Google Scholar
  27. Lindert, P. H. (1996) “What Limits Social Spending?” Explorations in Economic History 33: 1–34.Google Scholar
  28. Moberg, E. (1998) “The Expanding Public Sector-A Threat to Democracy?” In: Eliasson, G., and Karlson, N. (eds) The Limits of Government: On Policy Competence and Economic Growth, 45–68. Stockholm: City University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Mueller, D. C. (1989) Public Choice-II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mueller, D. C. (1996) Constitutional Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Nilsson, L. (1998). “Opinionstrender och medieeffekter. ” In: Holmberg, S., and Weibull, L. (eds) Mitt i 90-talet. Göteborg: SOM-institutet.Google Scholar
  32. North, D. C. (1991) “Toward a Theory of Institutional Change. ” Quarterly Review of Economics and Business 31(4): 3–11.Google Scholar
  33. OECD. (1996) Economic Outlook. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  34. Poterba, J. M. (1994) “State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics. ” Journal of Political Economy 102(4): 799–821.Google Scholar
  35. Roback Morse, J. (1997) “Constitutional Rules, Political Accidents, and the Course of History: New Light on the Annexation of Texas. ” The Independent Review 2(2): 173–200.Google Scholar
  36. Rodrik, D. (1993) “The Positive Economics of Policy Reform. ” American Economic Review 83(2): 356–361.Google Scholar
  37. Sen, A. (1992) Inequality Reexamined. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  38. Voigt, S. (1999) “Implicit Constitutional Change: Changing the Meaning of the Constitution without Changing the Text of the Document. ” European Journal of Law and Economics 7(3): 117–44.Google Scholar
  39. Wallis, J. J. (1989) “Toward a Positive Economic Theory of Institutional Change. ” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 145(1): 98–112.Google Scholar
  40. Witt, U. (1992) “The Endogenous Public Choice Theorist. ” Public Choice 73: 117–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niclas Berggren
    • 1
  1. 1.City University of StockholmStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations