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The Effect of Electoral Institutions on Tort Awards

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  • Eric Helland
  • Alexander Tabarrok

Abstract

We argue that partisan elected judges have an incentive to redistribute wealth from out-of-state defendants (nonvoters) to in-state plaintiffs (voters). We first test the hypothesis by using cross-state data. We find a significant partisan effect after controlling for differences in injuries, state incomes, poverty levels, selection effects, and other factors. One difference that appears difficult to control for is that each state has its own tort law. In cases involving citizens of different states, federal judges decide disputes by using state law. Using these diversity-of-citizenship cases, we conclude that differences in awards are caused by differences in electoral systems, not by differences in state law. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.

Volume (Year): 4 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 341-370

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Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:4:y:2002:i:2:p:341-370

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Cited by:
  1. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, . "Race, Poverty, and American Tort Awards: Evidence from Three Datasets," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-29, Claremont Colleges.
  2. Michael D. Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads," Working Papers 2009-02, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2009.
  3. Makowsky, Michael & Sanders, Shane, 2013. "Political costs and fiscal benefits: The political economy of residential property value assessment under Proposition 212," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 359-363.
  4. Helland, Eric & Klick, Jonathan, 2010. "To Regulate, Litigate, or Both," Working paper 32, Regulation2point0.
  5. Eric Helland & Jonathan Klick & Alexander Tabarrok, 2005. "Data Watch: Tort-uring the Data," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 207-220, Spring.

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