Quantitative Methods in Constitutional Scholarship

For a long time, (comparative) constitutional legal scholars have tried to evaluate the consequences of constitutional design by drawing on and comparing select country cases. Such a qualitative empirical research approach, however, has its limitations. While it might be suitable to generate theories of how constitutions work, it is difficult to assess whether these explanations are valid when applied to a larger set of constitutions (i.e., whether findings from a single or few countries can be generalized) and whether one theory potentially outperforms other theories in explaining differences across countries and time. Thanks to the ever-increasing availability of sophisticated statistics software, powerful personal computers, and well-trained researchers, quantitative analyses of constitutions have surged in recent decades.
In my contribution, I will focus on the opportunities, the challenges, but also the potential pitfalls of relying on quantitative methods to study constitutions.