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Identifying Judicial Empathy: Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women’s Issues?

June 27, 2014 Comments off

Identifying Judicial Empathy: Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women’s Issues? (PDF)
Source: American Journal of Political Science (forthcoming)

In this article, we consider whether personal relationships can affect the way that judges decide cases. To do so, we leverage the natural experiment of a child’s gender to identify the effect of having daughters on the votes of judges. Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges.More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and this is the first article to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases.

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Do Politicians Racially Discriminate against Constituents?

May 12, 2011 Comments off

Do Politicians Racially Discriminate against Constituents? (PDF)
Source: American Journal of Political Science

We use a field experiment to investigate whether race affects how responsive state legislators are to requests for help with registering to vote. In an email sent to each legislator, we randomized whether a putatively black or white alias was used and whether the email signaled the sender’s partisan preference. Overall, we find that putatively black requests receive fewer replies. We explore two potential explanations for this discrimination: strategic partisan behavior and the legislators’ own race. We find that the putatively black alias continues to be differentially treated even when the emails signal partisanship, indicating that strategic considerations cannot completely explain the observed differential treatment. Further analysis reveals that white legislators of both parties exhibit similar levels of discrimination against the black alias. Minority legislators do the opposite, responding more frequently to the black alias. Implications for the study of race and politics in the United States are discussed.

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