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Litigation as a Measure of Well-Being

30 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2012 Last revised: 10 Jun 2016

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Nick Robinson

Yale Law School; Harvard Law School, Program on the Legal Profession; Center for Policy Research (India)

Sital Kalantry

Cornell University - Law School

Date Written: April 8, 2012

Abstract

The common perception is that high or growing litigation rates in a country are a sign of societal pathology Studies of litigation rates, however, consistently report that lawsuit filings per capita increase with economic prosperity, thus suggesting that litigation rates are a natural consequence of prosperity and not necessarily evidence of an overly litigious populace. India’s substantial interstate variation in litigation rates and in economic and noneconomic measures of well-being provide an opportunity to evaluate the relation between well-being and litigation rates. Using many years of data on civil filings in India’s lower Courts and high Courts, we present evidence that more prosperous states have higher civil litigation rates. We also report the first evidence that accounting for noneconomic well-being, as measured by the education and life expectancy components of the Human Development Index, explains litigation rate patterns better than explanations using a more purely economic measure of well-being, GDP per capita. Despite India’s continuing economic growth, we present data that indicates India’s enormous and growing civil case backlog has discouraged civil case filings in recent years. These findings raise the question whether India’s future economic growth will be compromised if courts at all levels, particularly lower courts, are not able to more quickly resolve disputes.

Keywords: empirical studies, India, litigation

JEL Classification: K1, O1

Suggested Citation

Eisenberg, Theodore and Robinson, Nick and Kalantry, Sital, Litigation as a Measure of Well-Being (April 8, 2012). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2036194 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2036194

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Nick Robinson

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Harvard Law School, Program on the Legal Profession ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Center for Policy Research (India) ( email )

Dharma Marg
Chanakyapuri
New Delhi, 110022
India

Sital Kalantry (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

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