Quantifying Economic Reasoning in Court: Judge Economics Sophistication and Pro-business Orientation

By applying computational linguistics tools to the analysis of US federal district courts’ decisions from 1932 to 2016, this paper quantifies the rise of economic reasoning in court cases that range from securities regulation to antitrust law. I then relate judges’ level of economic reasoning to their training. I find that significant judge heterogeneity in economics sophistication can be explained by attendance at law schools that have a large presence of the law and economics faculty. Finally, for all regulatory cases from 1970 to 2016, I hand code whether the judge ruled in favor of the business or the government. I find that judge economics sophistication is positively correlated with a higher frequency of pro-business decisions even after controlling for political ideology and a rich set of other judge covariates.


Siying Cao is a PhD candidate at the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. She is a Bradley fellow and recipient of the dissertation award of the Stigler Center, University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Her research interests are primarily in industrial organization and law and economics, with a focus on regulation, law, and their dynamic interactions with firms and markets. Her PhD dissertation explores the role of economic ideas in the judiciary. She is also interested in machine learning and the philosophy and sociology of economics.

Speaker(s) Ms Siying CAO
PhD candidate, Department of Economics, the University of Chicago
Date 14 Jan 2021 (Thursday)
Time 11:00 am
Venue Online Via Zoom (link will be sent via email)
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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