The impact of judicial objective function on the enforcement of environmental standards
We investigate the influence of a judge’s objective function on the type of sanctions used for enforcing environmental standards. We focus on the difference between monetary and non-monetary penalties. Therefore, we examine the extent to which judges take social costs of sanctions into account when making judgments in court in the context of environmental violations. Furthermore, we conduct an empirical analysis to test the main findings of the theoretical model using court data from several Belgian jurisdictions. We find that besides minimizing environmental damages judges also take social costs of sanctions into account in their decisionmaking. The first part of this paper uses quantitative methods to assess the success of party affiliation, personal interests and the economic profile of the constituencies in predicting voting behavior. Thanks to the detailed censuses of 1846 on agriculture, industry and population, it is possible to typify the economic make-up of the electoral districts in much more detail than in the British case. However, the analysis of roll-call voting proves that party affiliation and personal and constituency economic interests are insufficient to explain the shift towards free trade. The second part of the paper then discusses the role played by political strategy and ideas in the liberalization of corn tariffs, using a qualitative analysis of the debates on tariff policy. The large number of votes over a forty year period allows us to document the relationship between ideas and interests in a new way.
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