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Fragile markets: An experiment on judicial independence



Contract enforcement does not only affect single transactions but the market as a whole. We compare alternative institutions that allocate enforcement rights to the different parties to a credit transaction: either lenders, borrowers, or judges. Despite all parties having incentives to enforce and transact, the market flourishes or disappears depending on the treatment: paying judges according to lenders' votes maximizes total surplus and equity; and a similar result appears when judges are paid according to average earnings in society. In contrast, paying judges according to borrowers' votes generates the poorest and most unequal society. These results suggest that parties playing the role of borrowers understand poorly the systemic consequences of their decisions, triggering under-enforcement, and hence wasting profitable trade opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Benito Arruñada & Marco Casari, 2007. "Fragile markets: An experiment on judicial independence," Economics Working Papers 1031, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1031

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:189-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Benito Arruñada & Marcos Casarin & Francesca Pancotto, 2012. "Are Self-regarding Subjects More Rational?," Working Papers 611, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Anna Rita Germani, 2007. "The Environmental Enforcement in the Civil and the Common Law Systems. A Case on the Economic Effects of Legal Institutions," Quaderni DSEMS 22-2007, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Matematiche e Statistiche, Universita' di Foggia.
    4. B. Arruñada & M. Casari & F. Pancotto, 2012. "Are Self-regarding Subjects More Strategic?," Working Papers wp805, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    5. Germani, Anna Rita & Morone, Andrea & Morone, Piergiuseppe, 2009. "Investigating Discretionary Environmental Enforcement: a pilot experiment," MPRA Paper 12735, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    impersonal exchange; third-party enforcement; steps of reasoning; other-regarding preferences; judicial independence.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General


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