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Abstract:

Political Economy and Public Policy Paper
Implementation of Anti-Discrimination Policy: Does Judicial Selection Matter?
Timothy Besley and A. Abigail Payne
August 2005
Paper No' PEPP 04:
Full Paper (pdf)

One of the most striking changes in labor market policy of the past fifty years has come in the form of legislation to limit discrimination in the workplace based on race, gender, disability and age. If such measures are to be effective in ending discrimination, they need to be enforced. The latter is dependent on state and federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and ultimately the willingness of courts to find in favor of plaintiffs. Courts also play an important role in the evolution of antidiscrimination policy since past decisions create future precedent. This paper asks whether the number of charges filed with government agencies depends on the method by which judges are selected. Popularly elected judges should be expected to have more proemployee preferences (selection) and should move closer to employee preferences (incentives). This should result in fewer anti-discrimination charges being filed in states that appoint their judges. In line with this prediction, this paper uses data on the number of employment discrimination charges filed for the period 1973-2000 and finds that states that appoint their judges have fewer anti-discrimination charges being filed.