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CEP discussion paper

Measuring the gains from labor specialization


We estimate the productivity effects of labor specialization using a judicial environment that offers a quasi-experimental setting well suited to this purpose. Judges in this environment are randomly assigned many different types of cases. This assignment generates random streaks of same-type cases which create mini-specialization events unrelated to the characteristics of judges or cases. We estimate that when judges receive more cases of a certain type they become faster, i.e., more likely to close cases of that type in any one of the corresponding hearings. Quality, as measured by probability of an appeal, is not negatively affected.


Decio Coviello, Andrea Ichino and Nicola Persico

12 November 2019     Paper Number CEPDP1661

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Growth programme.