“Ideas Have Consequences: The Impact of Law and Economics on American Justice,” Suresh Naidu, Columbia University
QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS WORKSHOP
Abstract: This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the effects of the early law-and-economics movement on the U.S. judiciary. We focus on the Manne Economics Institute for Federal Judges, an intensive economics course that trained almost half of federal judges between 1976 and 1999. Using the universe of published opinions in the U.S. Circuit Courts and 1 million District Court criminal sentencing decisions, we estimate the within-judge effect of Manne program attendance. Selection into attendance was limited - the program was popular across judges from all backgrounds, was regularly oversubscribed, and admitted judges on a first-come first-served basis - and results are robust to a variety of automatically selected covariates predicting the timing of attendance. We find that after attending economics training, participating judges use more economics language in their opinions, issue more conservative decisions in economics-related cases, rule against regulatory agencies more often, favor more lax enforcement in antitrust cases, and impose more/longer criminal sentences. The law-and-economics movement had policy consequences via its influence on U.S. federal judges. (Coauthors: Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, and Suresh Naidu)
Suresh Naidu is a professor of economics and public affairs at Columbia University, a research fellow at the NBER, and external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute.
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