New Economics Papers
on Law and Economics
Issue of 2010‒10‒16
two papers chosen by
Jeong-Joon Lee, Towson University

  1. Gov-arrrgh-nance: Jolly Rogers and Dodgy Rulers By Olaf J. de Groot; Anja Shortland
  2. Jury Discrimination in Criminal Trials By Shamena Anwar; Patrick Bayer; Randi Hjalmarsson

  1. By: Olaf J. de Groot; Anja Shortland
    Abstract: In this paper, we argue that the effect of governance on the emergence of crimes of different levels of sophistication is highly non-linear. State failure, anarchy and a lack of infrastructure are not conducive to establishing any business, including illicit enterprises. At the bottom of the spectrum, therefore, both legal business and criminal gangs benefit from improved governance. With further improvements in governance criminal activities decline. We find strong and consistent support for this hypothesis using the International Maritime Bureau's dataset on piracy. Piracy is reported by ship-owners, giving a unique insight into crime in badly governed countries which were systematically excluded from previous analyses. We show that profitable forms of piracy flourish where on the one hand there is stability and infrastructure, but on the other hand the state does not have the capacity to intervene and/or bureaucrats can be bribed to turn a blind eye. For minor acts of theft from ships the pattern is quadratic: piracy first rises and then falls as governance improves.
    Keywords: Piracy, illegal behaviour, law enforcement, legal institutions
    JEL: K42 P48
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Shamena Anwar (Carnegie Mellon University); Patrick Bayer (Duke University); Randi Hjalmarsson (Queen Mary, University of London)
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a unique dataset of all felony trials in Sarasota County, Florida between 2004 and 2009. We utilize a research design that exploits day-to-day variation in the composition of the jury pool to isolate quasi-random variation in the composition of the seated jury. We find strong evidence that all-white juries acquit whites more often and are less favorable to black versus white defendants when compared to juries with at least one black member. Using the Anwar-Fang rank order test, we find strong statistical evidence of discrimination on the basis of defendant race. These results are consistent with racial prejudice on the part of white jurors, black jurors, or both. Using a simple model of jury selection and decision-making, we replicate the entire set of empirical regularities observed in the data, including the fact that blacks in the jury pool are just as likely as whites to be seated. Simulations of the model suggest that jurors of each race are heterogeneous in the standards of evidence that they require to convict and that both black and white defendants would prefer to face jurors of the same race.
    Keywords: Discrimination, Race, Jury, Felony trials, Verdicts
    JEL: K14 K4 J15
    Date: 2010–10

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