Search results for: Author=Engel, Christoph [397]

Pages

2017
At the Mercy of a Prisoner. Three Dictator Experiments
Applied Economics Letters
24
774-778
2017
Abstract
We test male juvenile prisoners on a dictator game with another anonymous co-prisoner as recipient. Prisoners give more than students, but less than nonstudents of their age. They give more to a charity than to another prisoner. In one of two experiments, those convicted for violent crime give more than those convicted for property crime.
Behaviorally Efficient Remedies – An Experiment
2017/17
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
Under common law, the standard remedy for breach of contract is expectation damages. Under continental law, the standard is specific performance. The common law solution is ex post efficient. But is it also ex ante efficient? We use experimental methods to test whether knowing that non-fulfilment will only lead to damages deters mutually beneficial trade. The design excludes aversion against others willfully breaking their promises. We find that there is indeed less trade if specific performance is not guaranteed, provided the preference for the traded commodity is sufficiently pronounced.
Committing the English and the Continental Way – An Experiment
2017/16
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
On the doctrinal surface, there is a deep divide between common and continental law when it comes to the origin of contractual obligations. Under continental law, in principle a unilateral promise suffices. Common law by contrast requires consideration. When it comes to deciding cases, the divide is much less pronounced. But for the most part the law does not govern people's lives through adjudication. It matches or molds their moral intuitions. We test these intuitions in the lab. If consideration is required, participants believe that all participants make more ambitious promises. But they themselves make a more cautious promise. These two effects cancel out, so that promises are not more likely to be kept with consideration.
Defendant Should Have the Last Word – Experimentally Manipulating Order and Provisional Assessment of the Facts in Criminal Procedure
2017/24
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
From a normative perspective the order in which evidence is presented should not bias legal judgment. Yet psychological research on how individuals process conflicting evidence sug-gests that order could matter. The evidence shows that decision-makers dissolve ambiguity by forging coherence. This process could lead to a primacy effect: initial tentative interpretations bias the view on later conflicting evidence. Or the process could result in a recency effect: the evidence presented last casts decisive light on the case. In two studies (N1 = 221, N2 = 332) we test these competing hypotheses in a mock legal case. Legal orders sometimes even expect judges to provisionally assess the evidence. At least they have a hard time preventing this from happening. To test whether this creates or exacerbates bias, in the second dimensions, we explicitly demand experimental participants to express their leaning, after having seen half of the evidence. We consistently observe recency effects and no interactions with leanings. If the legal order wants to preempt false convictions, defendant should have the last word.
Diffusion of Legal Innovations: The Case of Israeli Class Actions
2017/11
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
In law and economics, it is standard to model legal rules as an opportunity structure. The law’s subjects maximize expected profit, given these constraints. In such a model, the reaction to legal innovation is immediate. This is not what we observe after class action is introduced into Israeli law. For a long time, the new remedy is almost unused. Then the adoption process gains momentum. We discuss alternative options for theorizing the effect. We find that market entry is not only explained by the available information about profitability, but also by the adoption pattern of others. When deciding whether to bring further claims, law firms also react to the experiences they have made themselves. We thus explain the pattern by individual and social learning, and cannot exclude mere social imitation.
Does Efficiency Trump Legality? The Case of the German Constitutional Court
2017/20
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
The US Supreme Court has the power of certiorari. It may pick its fights. As a beneficial side effect, the court may allocate its resources, in particular the time and energy the justices spend on a case, to worthy causes. In economic parlance, this discretion makes the court more efficient. Efficiency comes at a political cost, though. This discretion also gives the court political power. It may direct its verdict to causes that are politically most relevant, or it may put an issue on the political agenda. Officially German constitutional law does not have certiorari. The Constitutional Court must decide each and every case that is brought. Yet over time the court has crafted a whole arsenal of more subtle measures for managing the case load. This paper shows that it uses these tools to engage in its version of allocating resources to cases. It investigates whether the ensuing efficiency gain comes at the cost of biasing the court’s jurisprudence. The paper exploits a new comprehensive data set. It consists of all (mostly only electronically) published cases the court has heard in 2011. While the data is rich, in many technical ways it is demanding. The paper uses a factor analysis to create a latent variable: to which degree has the court taken an individual case seriously? It then investigates whether observed indicators for bias explain this latent variable. Since the paper essentially investigates a single (independent) case, in statistical terms the findings are to be interpreted with caution. The paper can only aim at finding smoking guns.
Editorial Preface
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
173
1
1-3
2017
Empirical Methods for the Law
2017/07
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
To their credit, empirical legal scholars try to live up to the highest methodological standards from the social sciences. But these standards do not always match the legal research question. This paper focuses on normative legal argument based on empirical evidence. Whether there is a normative problem, and whether legal intervention promises to mitigate the problem, requires a decision. If uncertainty cannot be completely removed, the legal decision-maker must weigh the risk of false positives against the risk of false negatives. This may call for an adjustment of the significance level. The fact that all legal choice is historically contingent, that legal problems tend to be ill-defined, and that strategic actors have an incentive to bias the generation of evidence defy frequentist statistics. Yet the law can capitalize on the adversarial principle. Competition among interested parties helps contain the strategic element and spurs the creative search for better evidence. This leads to suggestive, but institutionally contained empirical evidence.
Experimental Social Planners: Good Natured, but Overly Optimistic
2017/23
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
Public goods are dealt with in two literatures that neglect each other. Mechanism design advises a social planner that expects individuals to misrepresent their valuations. Experiments study the provision of the good when preferences might be non-standard. We introduce the problem of the mechanism design literature into a public good experiment. Valuations for the good are heterogeneous. To each group we add a participant with power to impose a contribution scheme. We study four settings: the authority has no personal interest and (1) valuations are common knowledge or (2) active participants may misrepresent their types; the authority has a personal interest (3) and must decide before learning her own valuation or (4) knows her own valuation. Disinterested social planners predominantly choose a payment rule that gives every group member the same final payoff, even if misrepresentation is possible. Authorities are overly optimistic about truth telling. Interested social planners abuse their power, except if the opportunity cost of a more balanced rule is small.
How to Protect Entitlements: An Experiment
2017/05
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
In a full-information, zero transactions costs world, the degree of protection afforded to an entitlement does not affect the likelihood of efficient trade. In reality, imperfect information is often inevitable. Specifically, a party will usually have incomplete information about fairness norms held by the other party – fairness norms that affect the other party’s willingness to pay (WTP) or willingness to accept (WTA). Importantly, these fairness norms may depend on how strongly the entitlement is protected. We experimentally test the effect of the degree of protection on the parties’ WTP and WTA and on the likelihood of efficient trade by varying the legal remedy for infringing upon the owner’s entitlement. We show that our participants can be divided into three groups corresponding to three different fairness norms: negative types whose WTP and WTA are decreasing in the strength of the legal remedy; positive types whose WTP and WTA are increasing in the strength of the legal remedy; and flat types whose WTP and WTA do not depend on the strength of the legal remedy. We find that type is role-dependent, such that a higher WTP and a lower WTA – the combination most conducive to efficient trade – is obtained with a weaker legal remedy.