Constitutional Law Meets Comparative Politics: Socio-economic Rights and Political Realities

Evan Rosevear and Ran Hirschl

in The Legal Protection of Human Rights

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606078
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729720 | DOI:
Constitutional Law Meets Comparative Politics: Socio-economic Rights and Political Realities

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This chapter presents comparative evidence of the lack of correlation between variations in court-based human rights protection for social welfare rights and the reality of welfare provisions in different countries. The extensive research done on the empirical relation between levels of welfare provision and various non-judicial factors is brought to bear on assessing the relationship between constitutional rights and their impact on inequality. The chapter examines the causal links between constitutional protection and the political salience of socio-economic inequality, poverty, and/or labour unions and other leftists forces and constituencies in a given polity; regional and international political economy factors that explain the expansion or shrinkage of public economy; the political context for ‘aspirational’ statements at the time of constitutionalization; levels of extra-constitutional commitment to, and existence of, a well developed welfare regime (Keynesian, Marxist-socialist, or otherwise) in that polity; attempts by courts to expand the ambit of their influence by acting when elected official will not; and the net effect of constitutionalization or of its prevalent modes of interpretation on the actual realization of welfare rights.

Keywords: welfare rights; labour unions; political economy; constitutionalization; inequality

Chapter.  11677 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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