The Persistence of the Criminal Justice Gender Gap: Evidence from 200 Years of Judicial Decisions

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We document persistent gender gaps favoring females in jury convictions and judges’ sentences in nearly 200 years of London trials, which are unexplained by case characteristics. We find that three sharp changes in punishment severity locally affected the size and nature of the gaps but were generally not strong enough to offset their persistence. These local effects suggest a mechanism of preference-based discrimination (paternalism) in which the all-male judiciary protected females from the harshest available punishment.

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