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Democracy, Judicial Attitudes And Heterogeneity: The Civil Versus Common Law Tradition

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Executive Summary

A key issue in the design of a legal system is the choice of the mechanism aggregating preferences over the level of deterrence. While under Case law appellate judges' biases offset one another at the cost of volatility of precedents, under Statute law the Legislator chooses certain rules that are biased only when bribes are accepted: i.e., when political institutions are weak and/or the preference heterogeneity is sufficiently high. Thus, only in the last scenario, Case law can outperform Statute law. Also, institutions fostering limited discretion by lower courts improve the performance of Case law. Instrumental variables estimates based on historical data from 156 countries confirm this prediction.

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