Peer effects in judicial decisions: Evidence from Spanish labour courts

Martín-Román, Á., Moral, A. &Martínez-Matute, M. (2015): Peer effects in judicial decisions: Evidence from Spanish labour courts, International Review of Law and Economics, 42, 20-37.

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to estimate peer effects in judicial decisions by exploring whether local and/or regional patterns may impact these decisions. The analysis of these patterns allows us to detect the existence of different social or neighbourhood effects, namely, contextual, correlated and peer effects. Our empirical analysis is based on the General Council of the Judiciary database, which provides court level information on the number of cases resolved in favour of the worker by judges between 2004 and 2010. Methodologically, we build different spatial correlation matrices to find local and/or regional patterns. Underlying the current analysis is the notion that judges might be influenced by the decisions taken by their colleagues in neighbouring provincial or even regional courts. Our results point to the absence of contextual effects, some significance of correlated effects (likely caused by the existence of a High Court in each region that acts as the highest authority before which appeals may be filed) and strong evidence of peer effects.

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