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Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging


Christina L. Boyd


University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs

Lee Epstein


Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

Andrew D. Martin


Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law


2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper

Abstract:     
We enter the debate over the role of sex in judging by addressing the two predominant empirical questions it raises: whether male and female judges decide cases distinctly (individual effects) and whether the presence of a female judge on a panel causes her male colleagues to behave differently (panel effects). We do not, however, rely exclusively on the predominant statistical models - variants of standard regression analysis - to address them. Because these tools alone are ill-suited to the task at hand, we deploy a more appropriate methodology - non-parametric matching - which follows from a formal framework for causal inference.

Applying matching methods to sex discrimination suits resolved in the federal circuits between 1995 and 2002 yields two clear results. First, we observe substantial individual effects: The likelihood of a judge deciding in favor of the party alleging discrimination decreases by about 10 percentage points when the judge is a male. Likewise, we find that men are significantly more likely to rule in favor of the rights litigant when a woman serves on the panel. Both effects are so persistent and consistent that they may come as a surprise even to those scholars who have long posited the existence of gendered judging.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

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Date posted: July 19, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Boyd, Christina L. and Epstein, Lee and Martin, Andrew D., Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging. 2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1001748 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1001748

Contact Information

Christina L. Boyd (Contact Author)
University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs ( email )
Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States
Lee Epstein
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
HOME PAGE: http://epstein.wustl.edu
Andrew D. Martin
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
HOME PAGE: http://adm.wustl.edu
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