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

See all articles by Daniel L. Chen

Daniel L. Chen

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France

Vardges Levonyan

ETH Zürich

Susan Yeh

Charles River Associates (CRA)

Date Written: January 25, 2020

Abstract

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

Chen, Daniel L. and Levonyan, Vardges and Yeh, Susan, Can Policies Affect Preferences: Evidence From Random Variation in Abortion Jurisprudence (January 25, 2020). TSE Working Paper No. 16-723, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928175 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2928175

Daniel L. Chen (Contact Author)

Directeur de Recherche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse School of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, University of Toulouse Capitole, Toulouse, France ( email )

Toulouse School of Economics
1, Esplanade de l'Université
Toulouse, 31080
France

Vardges Levonyan

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

Susan Yeh

Charles River Associates (CRA) ( email )

1201 F. St. NW
Ste. 700
Washington, DC 20004
United States

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