DP14049 Electoral Sentencing Cycles
|Author(s):||David Abrams, Roberto Galbiati, Emeric Henry, Arnaud Philippe|
|Publication Date:||October 2019|
|Programme Areas:||Public Economics|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14049|
Exploiting features of the North-Carolina judicial system, elections and forced rotation of judges, we overcome major challenges hampering the identification of the existence and source of sentencing variation over the electoral cycle. We show that when elections approach, sentencing for felonies increase. This increase is driven by decisions taken by judges present in their district of election, and only when elections are contested. When judges operate outside their district of elections, sentencing decisions do not significantly vary over the electoral cycle. Our results demonstrate the existence of strategic sentencing by judges in an attempt to please voters and allow us to discard alternative explanations for the rise along the cycle, such as behavioral motives or contextual explanations.