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The Strategic Constitution Paperback – April 7, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0691096209 ISBN-10: 0691096201

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691096201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691096209
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,157,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"For anyone looking for a textbook that provides a systematic introduction to the economic analysis of constitutional law in an accessible manner while covering a wide range of topics, it would . . . be hard to find a more suitable book. . . . [It] will encourage students to think about constitutional analysis from a new perspective in an engaging way."--Georg Vanberg, Law and Politics Book Review

"Cooter has written a very useful book. . . . It is important to identify the general principles--the engineering principles if you like--that underlie the structure of effective constitutions. And that is just what the author has done."--Michael C. Munger, Regulation

"A clear and comprehensive introduction to modern work in political economy and rational choice as it applies to the strategic analysis of government structure. The book blends normative and positive concerns in an enlightening way. . . . The book has an admirable emphasis on constitutional structure and on the strategic opportunities created by alternative ways of organizing government."--Susan Rose-Ackerman, Political Science Quarterly

"The Strategic Constitution comprehensively analyzes constitutional issues. The result is impressive. Scholars seeking a stronger grasp of constitutional issues, and teachers seeking an economically sound theoretical foundation for teaching constitutional law, will find this book quite useful."--Donald J. Boudreaux, American Law and Economics

"A tour de force through a large number of fields of economic theory, ranging from social choice to fiscal federalism, written by one of the most distinguished fellows of the law-and-economics branch of professionalism. . . ."--Journal of Economics

"Robert D. Cooter has written a marvelous book. The Strategic Constitution is truly a tour de force, applying economic analysis to virtually the full range of constitutional issues that arise in a democracy and doing so in a way that is both engaging and sprinkled with humor. . . . The book deserves to be standard reading for those with a serious interest in the fit between constitutions and democratic values."--Stephen Brooks, Democratization

From the Inside Flap

"This is a superb synthesis, application, and extension of four decades of research in economics and political science on the effects of formal political institutions on economics, law, and politics. Cooter is extraordinarily adept at crossing the disciplinary boundaries among economics, law, and politics. The book will be a wonderful textbook for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in the three disciplines. Moreover, many of Cooter's original arguments will generate considerable interest among leading social scientists as well. The scope of the book is simply breathtaking."--Geoffrey Garrett, Yale University

"I found this book to be incredibly stimulating. The field of law and economics is always a provocative source of ideas, forcing even the most reluctant consumer to rethink her own views and be more precise about articulating them as she works out a reply to the economic analysis on offer. Cooters analyses of constitutional law problems are no exception to this, and any good student or sophisticated reader will develop ideas or arguments that are much better grounded for having thought his analyses through."--Bruce Chapman, University of Toronto

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent introduction to the study of constitutions and the organization of government. The author did a wonderful job at selecting topics that related to each other and provided a rather complete bird's eye view of how economics can be used to study government. When I first browsed at its table of contents, I thought this was THE book I needed for my research on public administration and political economy(at least in this respect, the topics here are more cohesive than the smosgarbord of Persson and Tabellini's Political Economics or Drazen's Political Economy and Macroeconomics). Despite its breadth, however, Cooter's book lacks in depth of analysis, and this makes it more suitable as an undergraduate text or an introduction to nonspecialists. I agree with the first reviewer that the book is not very good at justifying assumptions and that the analysis provided can be simplistic at times. For instance, one major weakness stems from the author's obsessive adherence to the original methods of the field of Law and Economics; namely, the emphasis on basic price theory and microeconomic theory, which makes the book read more like an undergraduate text in (applied) economics. What is lacking, and this is what makes Persson and Tabellini's and Drazen's books superior, is a more systematic and rigorous use of contemporary tools such as game theory. Because it lacks rigor, this book is not suitable for research or reference purposes. It is also dated in the sense that it clings to a Law and Economics paradigm that is decades behind the latest work in positive or formal political theory.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Antonio on April 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If economic analysis of law had developed in continental Europe it would probably have begun with Constitutional law, rather than torts (Cf. Calabresi, the Cost of Accidents). As it was, the body of economic analysis of constitutional law is just starting to come together from a variety of sources, including public choice theory. Cooter came up with the idea for this book by way of discussions with European constitutional law experts. The book has all the merits of Cooter & Ulen's "Law and Economics". It is very easy to follow because it has been clearly written. It is not as deep, but neither is it as verbose as Posner, nor as insightful, or as superficial, as Sunstein. As a law and economics professor I have found it a Godsend. Its many examples and exercises make it a perfect undegraduate textbook, and it is high time it were translated into other languages (particularly Spanish, where there is no equivalent contemporary text). One would hope that Cooter would follow it up with a casebook with American and European cases. This is still a white space, and there's no one better qualified than Cooter to fill it up.
One caveat is that The Stratetic Constitution still shows the joints between some of the chapters and the greater whole, and there seem to be other subjects which could have been dealt with in greater detail, such as the impact of positive constitutional rights, which is significant in many countries whose systems are based on statutory law.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Francesco Lovecchio on August 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Well written, simple and complete. If I wasn't aware of the existing public choice literature I would have thought that this branch of economics (or law?) is mature and well developed, and that this book is a University textbook for a would-be course in Constitutional law and economics (if ever tought). However, this field is still fresh and unchartered, and this book gives a good idea of what to expect next.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Cooter's work the Strategic Constitution is inciteful in many regards. People not well versed in Law and Economics will find it a refreshing and easy to understand conception of the constitutional scheme. He presents his ideas clearly and doesn't assume too much about the lay reader's understanding of law or economics. It is a valuable first step into seeing Constitutional schemes through a less traditional lens. On the other hand, where the book is solid for novices, it is quite deficient for serious students of either law or economics. In his attempt to explain constituitonal issues using economics, he is guilty of oversimplying models to absurdity -- which, to some extent, is deceptive for non-students of law and economics. He rarely states assumptions or faults with his model or where new research is required to make the models more dynamic. The strategies implied are usually monotonic failing to realize that actors will modify their strategies for a more dynamic and complicated outcome if the results he presents are accurate. These faults are best shown in his seperation of powers analysis which not only improperly erroneously only considers "single-issue problems" but, along this vain, fails to factor in politics (or more complex strategic interactions) and non-policy focused preferences which occur and effect outcomes. For example, let's say A doesn't like a policy but is of the President's party, Cooter assumes (or by default assumes) that this person will vote to override a Presidential veto. Another failure of the book is its lack of empirical support. He cites few studies which are explained rather poorly. Overall, it is hard to believe that forty years of law and economics has not more flesh than the skeleton Cooter presents.
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