Working Paper BETA #2016-55

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Title : Does Gender Matter in the Civil Law Judiciary? Evidence from French Child Support Court Decisions

Author(s) : Bruno Jeandidier, Cécile Bourreau-Dubois, Jean-Claude Ray, Myriam Doriat-Duban

Abstract : This article assesses whether and to what extent gender matters in one particular area of the civil law system, family law. Using a dataset of 2,000 child support decisions from French courts of appeal, we show that in a civil law system like that in France, the gender of the judge does seem to matter. We find that this influence is likely to manifest itself in two ways. First, our results show that female and male judges do not make the same decisions: comparatively to the latter, the former (i) are more generous, fixing higher amounts of child support (the difference represents between 8% and 17% of the average amount of child support), and (ii) make more pro-mother decisions, regardless of whether the mothers are debtors or creditors. The magnitude of these differences is greater when the panel is composed of three female judges, comparatively to mixed or all-male panels.

Key-words : judicial decision-making; gender; family law.

JEL Classification : K41-K36