The Effect of Own-Gender Jurors on Conviction Rates

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Despite concerns about gender bias in general and jurors’ gender in particular, little is known about the effect of jurors’ gender on conviction rates. We identify the effect of own-gender jurors by exploiting random variation in the assignment to and ordering of jury pools in two large Florida counties. Results indicate that own-gender jurors are significantly less likely to convict on drug charges, though we find no evidence of effects for other charges. Estimates indicate that adding one own-gender juror (∼1.6 standard deviations) results in a 30-percentage-point reduction in conviction rates on drug charges, which is highly significant even after adjusting for multiple comparisons. These findings highlight how drawing an opposite-gender jury can impose significant costs on defendants and demonstrate that own-gender bias can occur even in settings where the importance of being impartial is actively pressed on participants.

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