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The Persistence of the Criminal Justice Gender Gap: Evidence from 200 Years of Judicial Decisions

Author

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  • Bindler, Anna

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Hjalmarsson, Randi

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

We document persistent gender gaps favoring females in jury convictions and judge sentences in nearly 200 years of London trials, which are unexplained by case characteristics. We find that three sharp changes in punishment severity locally affected the size and nature of the gaps, but were generally not strong enough to offset their persistence. These local effects suggest a mechanism of taste-based discrimination (paternalism) where the all-male judiciary protected females from the harshest available punishment.

Suggested Citation

  • Bindler, Anna & Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2019. "The Persistence of the Criminal Justice Gender Gap: Evidence from 200 Years of Judicial Decisions," Working Papers in Economics 780, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0780
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2009. "Criminal sentencing in 19th-century Pennsylvania," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 287-298, July.
    2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2017. "The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 789-865, September.
    3. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3143-3259 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Kristin F. Butcher & Kyung H. Park & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2017. "Comparing Apples to Oranges: Differences in Women’s and Men’s Incarceration and Sentencing Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(S1), pages 201-234.
    5. Sonja B. Starr, 2015. "Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 127-159.
    6. Todd Sorensen & Supriya Sarnikar & Ronald L. Oaxaca, 2012. "Race and Gender Differences under Federal Sentencing Guidelines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 256-260, May.
    7. Stephen Nicholas & Deborah Oxley, 1993. "The living standards of women during the industrial revolution, 1795-1820," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 46(4), pages 723-749, November.
    8. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.),Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259, Elsevier.
    9. Stolzenberg, Lisa & D'Alessio, Stewart J., 2004. "Sex differences in the likelihood of arrest," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 443-454.
    10. Sara Horrell & Jane Humphries, 1995. "Women's labour force participation and the transition to the male-breadwinner family, 1790-1865," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(1), pages 89-117, February.
    11. Anna Bindler & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2018. "How Punishment Severity Affects Jury Verdicts: Evidence from Two Natural Experiments," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 36-78, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bindler, Anna & Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2019. "The Impact of the First Professional Police Forces on Crime," Working Papers in Economics 779, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; gender gap; crime; verdict; sentencing; discrimination; history;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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