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DIME Seminar Series: Multi-tasking and productivity: an application to study efficiency in the judiciary
June 24, 2014DIME Seminar

Much work is carried out in short, interrupted segments. This phenomenon, which we label task juggling, has been overlooked by economists.

Much work is carried out in short, interrupted segments. This phenomenon, which we label task juggling, has been overlooked by economists. We study the work schedules of some judges in Italy documenting that they do juggle tasks and that juggling causally lowers their productivity substantially. To measure the size of this effect, we show that although all these judges receive the same workload, those who are induced exogenously to juggle more trials at once instead of working sequentially on few of them at each unit of time, take longer to complete their portfolios of cases. Task juggling seems to have no adverse effect on the quality of the judges' decisions, as measured by the percent of decisions appealed. To identify these causal effects we exploit the lottery assigning cases to judges. We discuss whether task juggling can be viewed as inefficient, and provide a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the social cost of longer trials due to task juggling.

Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) is a global program hosted in the World Bank's Development Research Group. Its purpose is to increase the use of impact evaluation in the design and implementation of public policy and increase institutional capacity and motivation for evidence-based policy. The DIME Seminars are organized monthly with a goal of vividly presenting recent impact evaluation research results and conceptual papers and linking them to practical policy-making.

DIME Seminar
  • Location: J7-044, Washington, DC
  • Time: 2:00PM - 3:00PM
  • Speaker: Decio Coviello, HEC Montreal
  • CONTACT: Felipe Dunsch
  • FDunsch@worldbank.org