Lifespans of Constitutions

According to author, Tom Ginsburg, Professor of Law and Political Science, and Director, Program in Asian Law, Politics and Society at the University of Illinois College of Law, the average lifespan of a constitution is only 17 years. Read the whole paper here.

Here’s a snippet of the introduction “According to an old joke, a patron goes into a library and asks for a copy of the French Constitution, only to be told that the library does not stock periodicals. The joke feeds the Anglo-American habit of needling France, in this case suggesting a country with suspect democratic credentials, more concerned with fashion and form than substance. Yet France is more typical of national constitutional practice than the United States with its venerable 218-year old constitution. By our estimate, national constitutions have lasted an average of only seventeen years since 1789.”

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