Essays in Law and Economics

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Essays in Law and Economics

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Title: Essays in Law and Economics
Author: Givati, Yehonatan
Citation: Givati, Yehonatan. 2013. Essays in Law and Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Part I examines the consequences of an organizational reform in Israel that transferred the responsibility for housing arrestees from the police to the prison authority. Using the staggered introduction of the reform in different regions of the country, we show that the reform led to an increase in the number of arrests and to a decrease in the number of reported crimes, with effects concentrated in more minor crimes. The reform also led to a decrease in the quality of arrests, measured by the likelihood of indictment following an arrest. These findings are consistent with the idea that the reform externalized the cost of housing arrestees from the Police's perspective, and therefore led to an increase in police activity. Part II examines why some countries mandate a long maternity leave, while others mandate only a short one. We incorporate into a standard mandated-benefit model social tolerance of gender-based discrimination, showing that the less tolerant a society is of gender-based discrimination, the longer the maternity leave it will mandate. Relying on recent research in psychology and linguistics we collected new data on the number of gender-differentiated personal pronouns across languages to capture societies' attitudes toward gender-based discrimination. We first confirm, using within-country language variation, that our linguistic measure is correlated with attitudes toward gender-based discrimination. Then, using cross-country data on length of maternity leave we find a strong correlation between our language-based measure of attitudes and the length of maternity leave. Part III examines why plea bargaining is commonly employed in some countries, while its use is heavily restricted in others. I develop a model in which a social planner, who minimizes the social harms from punishing the innocent and not punishing the guilty, decides on the optimal scope of plea bargaining. The model shows that a lower social emphasis on ensuring that innocent individuals are not punished leads to a greater use of plea bargaining. Using new cross-country data on social preferences for punishing the innocent versus not punishing the guilty and a new coding of plea bargaining regimes, I find results that are consistent with the model's prediction.
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