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Essays in law and urban economics

Tan, Di Song (2022) Essays in law and urban economics. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004570


This thesis consists of three chapters that investigate the impact of the attributes of judges and juries, as well as the structures in which they make their decisions, on major societal outcomes such as urban development and criminal convictions. The first chapter examines how NIMBY-ism (“not in my back yard”) affect housing prices. In the UK, developers who have their plans rejected by local authorities can appeal the rejection via the Planning Inspectorate. Our empirical strategy exploits the quasi-random assignment of inspectors to appeals. This allows us to use inspector leniency as an instrument for whether an appeal is successful. We find that overturning the local authority’s decision does not lead to a large fall in housing prices. This suggests (i) local homeowners could be misinformed about the price impact of marginal local development projects; (ii) house prices are not the primary motive of NIMBY residents’ opposition of local residential developments; or (iii) opposition against development projects being driven by immediate neighbours rather than by the majority of neighbours in the vicinity of a development project. The second chapter uses the 1666 Great Fire of London as a natural experiment to study whether natural disasters can eliminate development frictions and bring about higher quality structures in the rebuilding process. First, using a difference-in-differences (DiD) strategy, we show evidence that the Fire resulted in higher quality structures. Second, using a DiD and an Instrumental Variables strategy, we find evidence that legal rulings arising from the Fire Court (a court specially set up by the English Parliament to hear rebuilding disputes) were able to anchor expectations and facilitate the development of London. In the third chapter, I build a structural model to understand how jury composition interacts with peremptory strikes to affect verdicts. I find that strikes are strategic complements, suggesting a tit-for-tat strategy where lawyers use strike to balance each other out. While the racial composition does favour the prosecutor, increases in the allowed number of strikes do not necessarily benefit her more than the defence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Di Song Tan
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Michaels, Guy and Henderson, Vernon

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