Social Capital, Institutional Rules, and Constitutional Amendment Rates

19 July 2023, Version 2
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Why are some constitutions amended more frequently than others? The literature provides few clear answers, as some scholars focus on institutional factors, while others emphasize amendment culture. We bridge this divide with new theoretical and empirical insights. Using data from democratic constitutions worldwide and US state constitutions, we examine how social capital reduces the transaction costs imposed by amendment rules. The results indicate that constitutional rigidity decreases amendment frequency, but group membership, civic activism, and political trust can offset the effect of amendment rules. Our findings have important implications for scholars in public law, constitutional and democratic theory, and social movements.


constitutional amendments
constitutional rigidity
social capital
transaction costs
social movements


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.