- University of Hamburg
- Residential Fellow (2012-2013)
- “Economic Effects of Judicial Systems: Normative Underpinnings and Policy Implications”
Stefan Voigt is Professor of Law & Economics at the University of Hamburg and director of the Institute of Law & Economics in the Law Department. His research focuses on the economic effects of constitutions. More specifically, current research focuses on the economics of emergency constitutions.
He authored Explaining Constitutional Change (1999) as well as a textbook on Institutional Economics (2nd edition 2009) that has been translated into Czech, Chinese and Arabic. A substantially revised English version is due to appear with Cambridge University Press in 2018.
Stefan has (co-)authored around 100 papers in peer reviewed journals including the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Development Economics and the Journal of Comparative Economics. Voigt is editor of Constitutional Political Economy and on the editorial board of a number of journals including the International Review of Law & Economics and Public Choice.
Voigt is a fellow with CESifo (Munich). He was fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin (1999/2000) and senior fellow at the Krupp Kolleg Greifswald (another institute of advanced study) in 2007/8. He has been visiting professor in Aix-en-Provence and Rennes (both France) as well as in Haifa (Israel) and St. Gallen (Switzerland). The German daily Handelsblatt ranks Voigt among the Top-100 German economists according to quality-weighted research output.
Contracting for Catastrophe: Legitimizing Emergency Constitutions by Drawing on Social Contract Theory
Res Publica, 2022
States of emergency are declared frequently in all parts of the world. Their declaration routinely implies a suspension of basic constitutional rights. In the last half century, it has become the norm for constitutions to contain an explicit ‘emergency constitution’, i.e., the constitutionally safeguarded rules of operation for a state of emergency. In this paper, I ask whether inclusion of an emergency constitution can be legitimized by drawing on social contract theory. I argue that there are important arguments, both against and in favor of constitutionalized emergency provisions, and that social contract theory—as applied by economists—can be of some help when deciding whether to have, or not to have an emergency constitution. This paper introduces a novel argument for justifying emergency constitutions. It argues that they can serve as a commitment mechanism protecting both citizens and politicians from overreacting to rare but significant threats.
Emergencies: On the Misuse of Government Powers
Public Choice, 2022
Nine out of 10 constitutions contain explicit emergency provisions, intended to help governments cope with extraordinary events that endanger many people or the existence of the state. We ask two questions: (1) does the constitutionalization of emergency provisions help governments to cope with disasters and other extraordinary events? (2) What particular parts of emergency constitutions fare best? We find that the more advantages emergency constitutions confer to the executive, the higher the number of people killed as a consequence of a natural disaster, controlling for its severity. As this is an unexpected result, we discuss a number of potential explanations, the most plausible being that governments use natural disasters as a pretext to enhance their power. Furthermore, the easier it is to call a state of emergency, the larger the negative effects on basic human rights. Interestingly, presidential democracies are better able to cope with natural disasters than parliamentary ones in terms of lives saved, whereas autocracies do significantly worse in the sense that empowerment rights seriously suffer in the aftermath of a disaster.
The Architecture of Emergency Constitutions
International Journal of Constitutional Law, 2016
Nine out of ten countries currently have emergency provisions written into their constitutions here simply referred to as emergency constitutions. The nature of these provisions remains poorly understood. We therefore aim at providing first answers to two questions: 1) how much additional discretionary power do emergency constitutions allow and which political actors are given the additional power; and 2) is there a limited number of “typical” emergency constitutions that combine various aspects in similar or even identical fashion? To answer the first question we construct an Indicator of Emergency Powers (INEP) which takes six central elements of emergency provisions explicitly into account. To answer the second question, we draw on cluster analysis and identify six well-defined clusters. Both the INEP as well as the six clusters allow us to answer important follow-up questions.