Advertisement

Judicial independence in the EU: a puzzle

  • Jerg GutmannEmail author
  • Stefan Voigt
Article

Abstract

Based on data from the EU Justice Scoreboard, we identify a puzzle: National levels of judicial independence (as perceived by the citizens of EU member states) are negatively associated with the presence of formal legislation usually considered as conducive to judicial independence. We try to resolve this puzzle based on political economy explanations and specificities of legal systems, but to no avail. We then ask whether cultural traits can help to put together the puzzle. And indeed, countries with high levels of generalized trust (and to a lesser extent individualistic countries) exhibit increased levels of de facto judicial independence and, at the same time, reduced levels of de jure judicial independence. The combination of these two effects can explain why judicial reforms that should be conducive to an independent judiciary may seem to have adverse consequences. We conclude that cultural traits are of fundamental importance for the quality of formal institutions, even in societies as highly developed as the EU member states.

Keywords

Judicial independence EU justice scoreboard Informal institutions Culture 

JEL Classification

H11 K40 O40 P51 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Giovanni Ramello for inviting them to participate in the panel in honor of Ted Eisenberg at the 2016 Italian Society of Law and Economics Conference in Turin and participants of the 2017 Danish Public Choice Workshop in Aarhus as well as two anonymous reviewers of this journal for helpful comments.

References

  1. Aghion, P., Algan, Y., Cahuc, P., & Shleifer, A. (2010). Regulation and distrust. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(3), 1015–1049.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bjørnskov, C. (2006). Determinants of generalized trust: A cross-country comparison. Public Choice, 130(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  3. Bjørnskov, C. (2015). Constitutional property rights protection and economic growth: Evidence from the post-communist transition. Constitutional Political Economy, 26(3), 247–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjørnskov, C., & Méon, P.-G. (2013). Is trust the missing root of institutions, education, and development? Public Choice, 157(3), 641–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bjørnskov, C., & Voigt, S. (2014). Constitutional verbosity and social trust. Public Choice, 161(1), 91–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. European Commission. (2016). The 2016 EU justice scoreboard. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  7. Feld, L. P., & Voigt, S. (2003). Economic growth and judicial independence: Cross-country evidence using a new set of indicators. European Journal of Political Economy, 19(3), 497–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gorodnichenko, Y., & Roland, G. (2017). Culture, institutions and the wealth of nations. Review of Economics and Statistics, 99(3), 402–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gutmann, J., & Voigt, S. (2017a). Is judicial independence good for business? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the public choice society in New Orleans.Google Scholar
  10. Gutmann, J. & Voigt, S. (2017b). The independence of prosecutors and government accountability. Paper presented at the 4th workshop on the economic analysis of litigation.Google Scholar
  11. Hayo, B., & Voigt, S. (2007). Explaining de facto judicial independence. International Review of Law and Economics, 27(3), 269–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Helmke, G., & McLean, E. V. (2014). Inducing independence: A strategic model of World Bank assistance and legal reform. Conflict Management and Peace Science, 31(4), 383–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hicks, R., & Tingley, D. (2011). Causal mediation analysis. The Stata Journal, 11(4), 605–619.Google Scholar
  14. Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (3rd ed.). London: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Klerman, D. M., Mahoney, P. G., Spamann, H., & Weinstein, M. I. (2011). Legal origin or colonial history? Journal of Legal Analysis, 3(2), 379–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (2008). The economic consequences of legal origins. Journal of Economic Literature, 46(2), 285–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Melton, J., & Ginsburg, T. (2014). Does de jure judicial independence really matter? A reevaluation of explanations for judicial independence. Journal of Law and Courts, 2(2), 187–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Murray, D. R., & Schaller, M. (2010). Historical prevalence of infectious diseases within 230 geopolitical regions: A tool for investigating origins of culture. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41(1), 99–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nannicini, T., Stella, A., & Tabellini, G. (2013). Social capital and political accountability. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(2), 222–250.Google Scholar
  20. Palumbo, G., Giupponi, G., Nunziata, L., & Sanguinetti, J. S. M. (2013). The economics of civil justiceNew cross-country data and empirics. OECD economics department working papers.  https://doi.org/10.1787/18151973.
  21. Parsons, J. (2017). The world’s flags given letter grades. https://www.joshparsons.net/flags/. Accessed March 2017.
  22. Pinotti, P. (2012). Trust, regulation and market failures. Review of Economics and Statistics, 94(3), 650–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pitlik, H., & Kouba, L. (2015). Does social distrust always lead to a stronger support for government intervention? Public Choice, 163(3), 355–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pitlik, H., & Rode, M. (2017). Individualistic values, institutional trust, and interventionist attitudes. Journal of Institutional Economics, 13(3), 575–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ramseyer, J. M., & Rasmusen, E. B. (2003). Measuring judicial independence: The political economy of judging in Japan. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. van Aaken, A., Feld, L. P., & Voigt, S. (2010). Do independent prosecutors deter political corruption? An empirical evaluation across seventy-eight countries. American Law and Economics Review, 12(1), 204–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. van Aaken, A., Salzberger, E., & Voigt, S. (2004). The prosecution of public figures and the separation of powers. Confusion within the executive branch: A conceptual framework. Constitutional Political Economy, 15(3), 261–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Voigt, S., Gutmann, J., & Feld, L. P. (2015). Economic growth and judicial independence, a dozen years on: Cross-country evidence using an updated Set of indicators. European Journal of Political Economy, 38, 197–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Law and EconomicsHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations