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Judges, Juveniles and In-group Bias

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  • Briggs Depew
  • Ozkan Eren
  • Naci Mocan

Abstract

We investigate the existence of in-group bias (preferential treatment of one’s own group) in court decisions. Using the universe of juvenile court cases in a U.S. state between 1996 and 2012 and exploiting random assignment of juvenile defendants to judges, we find evidence for negative racial in-group bias in judicial decisions. All else the same, black (white) juveniles who are randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they receive longer sentences. Although observed in experimental settings, this is the first empirical evidence of negative in-group bias, based on a randomization design outside of the lab. Explanations for this finding are provided.

Suggested Citation

  • Briggs Depew & Ozkan Eren & Naci Mocan, 2016. "Judges, Juveniles and In-group Bias," NBER Working Papers 22003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22003
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    Cited by:

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    2. Czarnocki, Kazimierz & Janulek, Dawid & Olejnik, Łukasz, 2019. "When stealing, go for millions? Quantitative analysis of white-collar crime sentencing in Poland," MPRA Paper 92340, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Aimone, Jason A. & Hudja, Stanton & Law, Wilson & North, Charles M. & Ralston, Jason & Rentschler, Lucas, 2023. "An experimental exploration of reasonable doubt," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 873-886.
    4. My Nguyen, 2018. "The Relationship between Race-Congruent Students and Teachers: Does Racial Discrimination Exist?," Departmental Working Papers 2018-06, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    5. Ash, Elliott & Asher, Sam & Bhowmick, Aditi & Bhupatiraju, Sandeep & Chen, Daniel L. & Devi, Tatanya & Goessmann, Christoph & Novosad, Paul & Siddiqi, Bilal, 2022. "Measuring Gender and Religious Bias in the Indian Judiciary," TSE Working Papers 22-1395, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    6. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Sarah Jewell & Carl Singleton, 2023. "Can Awareness Reduce (and Reverse) Identity-driven Bias in Judgement? Evidence from International Cricket," Working Papers 2023017, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    7. Philippe, Arnaud, 2017. "Gender disparities in criminal justice," TSE Working Papers 17-762, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    8. Arnaud Philippe, 2020. "Gender Disparities in Sentencing," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 87(348), pages 1037-1077, October.
    9. Armenak Antinyan & Tigran Aydinyan & Anna Ressi & Lilia Wasserka-Zhurakhovska, 2023. "An Experimental Analysis of In-Group Favoritism and Out-Group Discrimination in the Gain and Loss Domain," CESifo Working Paper Series 10606, CESifo.
    10. Samantha Bielen & Peter Grajzl, 2021. "Prosecution or Persecution? Extraneous Events and Prosecutorial Decisions," Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 18(4), pages 765-800, December.
    11. Mocan, Naci & Osborne-Christenson, Eric, 2022. "In-Group Favoritism and Peer Effects in Wrongful Acquittals: NBA Referees as Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 15195, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process

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