Change in Subjective Well-Being, Affluence and Trust in Judiciary in India

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Paper Abstract: 
The present study tests the hypothesis that trust in the lower judiciary in India - comprising High Courts at the state level and District Courts at the lower level - is associated with improvement in subjective economic well-being. The analysis is based on the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) 1 and 2 in 2005 and 2012, a large nationally representative household panel dataset. Using 2SLS and Lewbel IV models to take into account the endogeneity of trust in the lower judiciary, our analysis confirms that trust in the lower judiciary has a positive association with the change in SWB. The policy significance of this result is substantial as the pace of judicial reform tends to be slow in developing countries, such as India. Attention is drawn to specific reforms to reduce the pendency of cases. These include repeal of long outdated and dysfunctional laws, greater funding for expansion of the judiciary and, more importantly, for increasing the productivity of judges through the creation of a specialised administrative agency to support the judiciary and more effective use of IT in case management. This also has the potential for reducing rampant corruption, frequency of adjournments in court hearings as well as in ensuring autonomy of the judiciary.