Can Policies Affect Preferences: Evidence From Random Variation in Abortion Jurisprudence
TSE Working Paper No. 16-723
56 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 25, 2020
Turning to courts to vindicate rights often led to resistance and subsequent acceptance.
We formalize these effects in a model where laws can generate temporary backlash. We then exploit two layers of judge randomization to estimate effects of abortion jurisprudence using all abortion appellate and district cases from 1971-2004. Four results emerge. Judges’ politics, religion, and ethnicity predict abortion verdicts. Verdicts affect state regulations that restrict abortions and impact individuals. Stated and revealed preference shift against legalized abortion, albeit briefly. Backlash effects are pronounced among Republicans and on attitudes towards discretionary abortions. An original data entry experiment replicate these patterns.
Keywords: Backlash, Expressive Law, Abortion, Norms
JEL Classification: K36, Z1, D72, P48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation