Do Judges Exhibit Gender Bias? Evidence from the Universe of Divorce Cases in China
42 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2022
Does gender identity affect judicial decisions? This paper provides novel evidence of in-group gender bias in judicial decisions for almost all the divorce cases in China. Exploiting effectively random assignment of cases to judges, the analysis finds that a claim with a male plaintiff is 3.9% more likely to be accepted if it is randomly assigned to a male judge as opposed to a female judge. Heterogeneity analysis finds significantly larger bias in regions with initially higher gender discrimination, indicating that traditional social norm is a source of in-group gender bias. The analysis finds similarity in gender bias across regions with different levels of legal development, indicating that compared with institutions, culture and attitudes might be more important determinants of gender bias. The findings raise policy concerns about the fairness of trials in courts with a small proportion of female judges, especially those in developing countries and regions.
Keywords: Gender, in-group bias, gender discrimination, judicial decisions
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