Indian Litigation Rates as a Measure of Well Being

I co-authored this paper with Ted Eisenberg and Sital Kalantry (both Cornell Professors) entitled “Litigation as a Measure of Well Being: The Threat of India’s case backlog” that is just up on SSRN. It was profiled in today’s Mint and the Wall Street Journal Blog. Building off the work of Menaka Guruswamy and Aditya Singh, and Kannan Kasturi, we show that counter to the common idea that more litigation is a bad thing that at least in India it is actually a sign of development. We demonstrate that Indian states with higher civil litigation rates also generally have higher GDP per capita. In fact, a state’s Human Development Index score correlates even better with higher litigation rates. In other words, high litigation rates in India are a sign of prosperity and overall well being, not a sign of societal decay.

However, we also demonstrate that the growth of litigation in India is potentially being threatened by backlogged courts. Courts with higher backlog have had proportionately less growth in litigation rates, and overall litigation rates do not seem to be rising as one would expect with the country’s growth. If further economic growth requires efficient courts, India may be in trouble.

Written by
Nick Robinson
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