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Credible Commitments: A Key to Economic Progress


Published July 21, 2021

England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688 underscores the need for an independent judiciary, an open market, and institutions that protect private property rights. England underwent an economic revolution when changes to the rules governing the behavior of the sovereign meant the government could no longer take private property without consequences. Yet even in modern times, not all nations have learned the lesson. To innovate and flourish, a credible commitment to protect property rights is required, and that requires institutions to check those in power.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What caused the Glorious Revolution?
  2. How can nations create checks and balances that restrain the state’s power?

Additional Resources:

  • Read “Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England,” by Douglass C. North and Barry R. Weingast. Available here.
  • Read “Constitutional Stability and the Deferential Court” by Sonial Mittal and Barry R. Weingast. Available here.
  • Read “Legal Order: Lessons from Ancient Athens,” by Federica Carugati, Gillian K. Hadfield, and Barry R. Weingast. Available here.