Measuring the Gains from Labor Specialization: Theory and Evidence
41 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 28, 2018
We estimate the productivity effects of labor specialization using a judicial environment that offers a quasi-experimental setting well suited to this purpose. Judges in this environment are randomly assigned many different types of cases. This assignment generates random streaks of same-type cases which create mini-specialization events unrelated to the characteristics of judges or cases. We estimate that when judges receive more cases of a certain type they become faster, i.e., more likely to close cases of that type in any one of the corresponding hearings. Quality, as measured by probability of an appeal, is not negatively affected. We conclude that the channel through which these effects operate is learning-by-doing and that it can be generalised to other types of jobs.
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