No, Judges Are Not Influenced by Outdoor Temperature (or Other Weather): Comment
Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 1036
20 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 7, 2020
Heyes and Saberian (AEJ-AE 2019) estimate from 2000-2004 data that outdoor temperature reduces U.S. immigration judges’ propensity to grant asylum. This estimate is the result of coding and data errors and of sample selection. Correcting the errors reduces the point estimate by two thirds, with a wide 95% confidence interval straddling zero. Enlarging the sample to 1990-2019 flips the point estimate’s sign and rules out the effect size reported in Heyes and Saberian with very high confidence. An analysis of all criminal sentencing decisions by U.S. federal district judges 1992-2003 yields no evidence of temperature or other weather effects either.
Keywords: Judicial decision-making, weather, bias, asylum, sentencing, replication
JEL Classification: D91, K37, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation