Ideas Have Consequences: The Impact of Law & Economics on American Justice
Daniel L. Chen
Institute for Advanced Studies in Toulouse (IAST)
November 14, 2019 10:00AM E53-482, The Millikan Room
This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the effects of the early law and economics movement on the U.S. judiciary. Using the universe of published opinions in U.S. Circuit Courts and 1 million District Court criminal sentencing decisions linked to judge identity, we estimate the effect of attendance in the controversial Manne economics training program, an intensive course attended by almost half of federal judges between 1976 and 1999. After attending economics training, participating judges use more economics language, render more conservative verdicts in economics cases, rule against regulatory/taxation agencies more often, and impose longer criminal sentences. These results are robust to adjusting for a wide variety of covariates that predict the timing of attendance. Non-Manne judges randomly exposed to Manne peers on previous cases increase their use of economics language in subsequent opinions, suggesting economics ideas diffused throughout the judiciary.