Is Antitrust Too Complicated for Generalist Judges? The Impact of Economic Complexity & Judicial Training on Appeals


The recent increase in the demand for expert economic analysis in antitrust litigation has improved the welfare of economists; however, the law and economics literature is silent on the effects of economic complexity or judges’ economic training on judicial decision-making. We use a unique data set on antitrust litigation in federal district and administrative courts during 1996-2006 to examine whether economic complexity impacts antitrust decisions, and provide a novel test of the hypothesis that antitrust analysis has become too complex for generalist judges. We also examine the impact of basic economic training by judges. We find that decisions involving the evaluation of complex economic evidence are significantly more likely to be appealed, and decisions of judges trained in basic economics are significantly less likely to be appealed than are decisions by their untrained counterparts. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that some antitrust cases are too complicated for generalist judges.