Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging

46 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2007  

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

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - College of Literature, Science & the Arts

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.

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1001748 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1001748

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

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - College of Literature, Science & the Arts ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.lsa.umich.edu/admart

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