Judges, Juveniles and In-Group Bias

38 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2016

See all articles by Briggs Depew

Briggs Depew

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics

Ozkan Eren

University of California, Riverside

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

We investigate the existence of in-group bias (preferential treatment of one’s own group) in court decisions. Using the universe of juvenile court cases in a U.S. state between 1996 and 2012 and exploiting random assignment of juvenile defendants to judges, we find evidence for negative racial in-group bias in judicial decisions. All else the same, black (white) juveniles who are randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they receive longer sentences. Although observed in experimental settings, this is the first empirical evidence of negative in-group bias, based on a randomization design outside of the lab. Explanations for this finding are provided.

Suggested Citation

Depew, Briggs and Eren, Ozkan and Mocan, Naci H., Judges, Juveniles and In-Group Bias (February 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2736079

Briggs Depew (Contact Author)

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of economics
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6308
United States

Ozkan Eren

University of California, Riverside ( email )

900 University Avenue
4136 Sproul Hall
Riverside, CA 92521
United States

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of economics
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6308
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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