Trial Outcomes and Demographics: Is There a Bronx Effect?

39 Pages Posted: 6 May 2002

See all articles by Theodore Eisenberg

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Martin T. Wells

Cornell University - Law School


This article tests beliefs about the relation between local demographics and trial outcomes. It analyzes damages awards and plaintiff trial win rates at trials in federal and state courts for torts cases, products liability cases, and employment cases. In federal court trials, we find no robust evidence that award levels correlate with population demographics in the expected directions. A persistent result is a negative relation between award levels and black population percentages. We also do not find robust evidence that local demographics help explain plaintiff win rates. We do find a significant correlation between larger black population percentages and the likelihood of a plaintiff trial win in urban job discrimination, products liability, and torts cases. State court trials yield no robust evidence that race, income, or urbanization substantially help explain award levels. Poverty rates do have marginally significant correlations with increased award levels in torts and employment cases. And plaintiff win rates do correlate positively with poverty rates in state court tort cases, but this effect does not emerge in products liability or employment cases. Overall, we find little evidence of consistent demographic effects on trial outcomes.

Keywords: juries, census, trials, damages

JEL Classification: J7, K10, K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Eisenberg, Theodore and Wells, Martin T., Trial Outcomes and Demographics: Is There a Bronx Effect?. Available at SSRN: or

Theodore Eisenberg (Contact Author)

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

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

Martin T. Wells

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Comstock Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-8801 (Phone)

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