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

Abstract

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

Spamann, Holger, No, Judges Are Not Influenced by Outdoor Temperature (or Other Weather): Comment (July 7, 2020). Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 1036, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3645463

Holger Spamann (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

ECGI ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

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