Available in Russian
Authors: Konstantin Chatziathanasiou, Niels Petersen
Keywords: methodology of legal research; empirical research; quantitative methods; constitutional design; constitutional rights; effectiveness of constitutional rights
In recent years, we could observe an explosion of empirical research in the field of comparative constitutional law. This contribution seeks to evaluate the current state of affairs. It consists of four parts. The first part provides a basic introduction to quantitative empirical legal research. It identifies certain methodological challenges and discusses how to address them. The second part analyzes the literature on the institutional design choices that are made in constitutions. There is research both on the consequences of design choices and on the reasons why specific design features were included in the constitution. The third part looks at the empirical literature regarding constitutional rights, which mainly deals with the diffusion and with the effectiveness of individual rights enshrined in constitutions. In both parts, we do not aim at providing comprehensive reviews of the empirical research on comparative constitutional law. Instead, we concentrate on select studies that we consider to be particularly important and influential. The fourth part, finally, concludes by analyzing how the challenges that are particular to empirical research in constitutional law could be addressed. We find that the empirical identification strategies of many of the analyzed studies face significant unresolved challenges. These challenges concern, inter alia, the conceptualization of the measured variables and unobserved variable biases. For this reason, we should only have limited confidence in their results. Nevertheless, we argue that empirical research in comparative constitutional law is of fundamental importance. If comparative constitutional law scholars abandoned quantitative empirical projects, they would throw out the baby with the bathwater. Empirical research not only draws our attention to issues that would otherwise elude our view, but also gives us the chance to refine the methodology in order to develop better strategies to answer some of the decisive questions preoccupying comparative constitutional law scholarship. We therefore advocate not less, but more empirical research, while, at the same time, calling for more methodological pluralism.
About the authors: Konstantin Chatziathanasiou – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for International and Comparative Public Law, University of Münster, Münster, Germany; Visiting Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, Germany; Niels Petersen – Co-director, Institute for International and Comparative Public Law and Professor of Public Law, University of Münster, Münster, Germany; Research Affiliate, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, Germany.
Citation: Petersen N., Chatziathanasiou K. (2023) Empiricheskie issledovaniya v sravnitel’nom konstitutsionnom prave: krutoy paren’ “na rayone” ili sploshnye illyuzii? [Empirical research in comparative constitutional law: The cool kid on the block or all smoke and mirrors?]. Sravitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 124–151. (In Russian).
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