Let My People Go: Ethnic In-Group Bias in Judicial Decisions - Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment

46 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2009 Last revised: 31 Aug 2010

See all articles by Oren Gazal-Ayal

Oren Gazal-Ayal

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Political Science Department

Date Written: July 12, 2009

Abstract

Does ethnic identity affect judicial decisions? We provide new evidence on ethnic biases in judicial behavior, by examining the decisions of Arab and Jewish judges in first bail hearings of Arab and Jewish suspects in Israeli courts. Our setting avoids the potential bias from unobservable case characteristics by exploiting the random assignment of judges to cases during weekends, and by focusing on the difference in ethnic disparity between Arab and Jewish judges. The study concentrates on the early-stage decisions in the judicial criminal process, controlling for the state's position, and excluding agreements, thereby allowing us to distinguish judicial bias from other sources of ethnic disparities. We find systematic evidence of in-group (same ethnic group) bias in detention decisions. However, in cases where the decision is to detain, no ethnic bias was found in the length of the detention. Possible interpretations and implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: implicit bias, judicial decision, ethnic in-group

JEL Classification: K14, K42, J15, J71

Suggested Citation

Gazal-Ayal, Oren and Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, Let My People Go: Ethnic In-Group Bias in Judicial Decisions - Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment (July 12, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1433102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1433102

Oren Gazal-Ayal

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://weblaw.haifa.ac.il/en/Faculty/GazalAyal/Pages/default.aspx

Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Political Science Department ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem
Israel

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
323
Abstract Views
2,970
Rank
176,477
PlumX Metrics