The New York Times reports that the US Constitution is losing influence, based on a starting point of an unsourced Time report claiming in 1987 that “Of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

But in Time, there are no specifics. And it is hard to imagine a framer looking at the Senate (which lets you invent a state by drawing a box on the map where nobody lives and give it two Senators) or the Electoral College (about whose craziness do we really need to say anything?) and saying “Mmm, I want me some of that hot Constitutional jury-rigging.”

Were the Timesmen perhaps just counting all constitutions that have an independent president?

It turns out the actual study the NYT links is more narrow, and interesting, than Time’s blithe remark: it’s about rights. The scholars used the world’s constitutions to generate a “generic” list of rights, then calculated the similarity of actually existing constitutions to the generic list. Here’s the table of those most and least like the generic constitutional rights.

The US is not on either side. Here’s the table showing wherein the US differs from the generic constitution (which spans a page break in the article, so is split here).

“Generic” is not of course “better,” but it’s curious that we diverge so much from our fellows in guaranteeing rights – though hardly surprising in the areas of unionization and property rights.