The Demographics of Tort Reform
Emory University School of Law
Paul H. Rubin
Emory University - Department of Economics
The Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 4, 2008
Tort reform may not affect all segments of society equally. Studies have shown that many tort reforms disproportionately reduce compensation to women, children, the elderly, disadvantaged minorities, and less affluent people. This study goes beyond tort reform’s disproportionate effect on compensation, to explore whether tort reform also has a disproportionate effect on accidental death rates. We explain that, theoretically, tort reform’s care-level effects and activity-level effects may disproportionately impact the accident rates of different groups. Using the most accurate, comprehensive data on medical malpractice tort reforms and state-level data from 1980-2000, we examine empirically whether tort reforms indeed have such a disproportionate effect. The results from our empirical analysis are consistent with our theoretical predictions. We find that the impact of tort reform varies substantially among demographic groups. When we consider the net effect of all the reforms in our study together, our results suggest that women, children, and the elderly do not enjoy tort reform’s benefits as much as men and middle-aged people. In fact, they might even be harmed by reform.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: tort reform, damages, disparate impact
JEL Classification: J1, K00, K13, C33
Date posted: March 7, 2007 ; Last revised: August 19, 2011
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