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Judicial accountability and economic policy outcomes: evidence from employment discrimination charges

  • Tim Besley

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and London School of Economics)

  • Abigail Payne

How and whether judges should be held accountable is a key issue in the design of a legal system. Thirty-seven of the forty-eight continental states use some method of judicial selection which involves a direct role for citizens in selecting or re-appointing the judiciary. We identify two theoretical reasons why the method used for choosing judges is important – (i) a selection effect if the competence or underlying preferences of judges is affected, (ii) an incentive effect if the judges who are chosen behave differently because of the method used for their reappointment. This paper uses data from the U.S. to investigate whether judicial selection methods affect the number of employment discrimination charges filed for the period 1973- 2000. Our results show that states that appoint their judges have lower levels of discrimination charges compared to those that use some form of election. The results appear to be driven by states where judges being subject to re-election incentives rather than because judges with different preferences/competences are being chosen.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W03/11.

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Length: 32 pp
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:03/11
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  1. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Pop-Eleches, Cristian & Shleifer, Andrei, 2004. "Judicial Checks and Balances," Scholarly Articles 3451311, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Legal Origins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1193-1229, November.
  3. Stephen Coate & Timothy Besley, 2000. "Elected versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bohn, Henning & Inman, Robert P., 1996. "Balanced-budget rules and public deficits: evidence from the U.S. states," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 13-76, December.
  5. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1975. "The Independent Judiciary in an Interest-Group Perspective," NBER Working Papers 0110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. F. Andrew Hanssen, 2004. "Is There a Politically Optimal Level of Judicial Independence?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 712-729, June.
  8. Hanssen, F Andrew, 2002. " On the Politics of Judicial Selection: Lawyers and State Campaigns for the Merit Plan," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 110(1-2), pages 79-97, January.
  9. David Neumark & Wendy A. Stock, 2001. "The Effects of Race and Sex Discrimination Laws," NBER Working Papers 8215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 379-397, December.
  11. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1984. "Litigation and Settlement under Imperfect Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 404-415, Autumn.
  12. Hanssen, F Andrew, 2000. "Independent Courts and Administrative Agencies: An Empirical Analysis of the States," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 534-71, October.
  13. Hanssen, F Andrew, 1999. "The Effect of Judicial Institutions on Uncertainty and the Rate of Litigation: The Election versus Appointment of State Judges," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 205-32, January.
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