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American Economic Review: Vol. 102 No. 1 (February 2012)

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The Value of Information in the Court: Get It Right, Keep It Tight

Article Citation

Iaryczower, Matias, and Matthew Shum. 2012. "The Value of Information in the Court: Get It Right, Keep It Tight." American Economic Review, 102(1): 202-37.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.1.202

Abstract

We estimate an equilibrium model of decision making in the US Supreme Court that takes into account both private information and ideological differences between justices. We measure the value of information in the court by the probability that a justice votes differently from how she would have voted without case-specific information. Our results suggest a sizable value of information: in 44 percent of cases, justices' initial leanings are changed by their personal assessments of the case. Our results also confirm the increased politicization of the Supreme Court in the last quarter century. Counterfactual simulations provide implications for institutional design. (JEL D72, D82, D83, K10)

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Authors

Iaryczower, Matias (Princeton U)
Shum, Matthew (CA Institute of Technology)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
D82: Asymmetric and Private Information
D83: Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief
K10: Basic Areas of Law: General (Constitutional Law)


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