Social rights in the constitution and in practice

Avi Ben-Bassat, Momi Dahan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This paper presents a new data set on constitutional commitments to social rights (CCSR) for 68 countries. Quantitative indices are constructed for five social rights: the right to social security, education, health, housing and workers rights. We find two clear groups classified by legal origins: countries which share the tradition of French civil law generally have a higher CCSR than those that share the tradition of English common law. The CCSR in socialist countries is closer to French civil law, whereas countries with a German or Scandinavian tradition resemble the English common law countries more closely. Then the paper addresses the following question: is the constitution a binding constraint on public policy? We have not found a robust effect of CCSR on public policy except for the constitutional right to social security. Journal of Comparative Economics 36 (1) (2008) 103-119.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Constitution
  • Democracy
  • Government expenditure
  • Legal origins
  • Social rights
  • Social security


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