“Quantifying Economic Reasoning in Court: Judge Economic Sophistication and Pro-business Orientation” (draft coming soon)
Abstract: 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, ranging from securities regulation to antitrust law. I then relate judges’ level of economic reasoning to their training. I find that the significant judge heterogeneity in economic sophistication can be explained by attendance at law schools with 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 economic 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.