Division of Labor: Theory and Evidence from Judges

Decio Coviello (HEC)
Andrea Ichino (EUI)
Nicola Persico (Northwestern)

Abstract: We estimate the benefits of specialization for judges. We use the random allocation of cases to judges to estimate the causal effect of specialization on the hazard of closing a case and the probability of appeal. We estimate that there are considerable gains from specialization. More specialized judges have higher hazard of closing a case at any point in time. We then estimate whether or not specialization may reduce quality of decisions, and provide evidence that specialization does not increase appeal rates reducing quality. Our evidence is compatible with a model of judicial specialization and productivity and suggests that there are large gains from specialization in judicial decisions.