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Journal Article

Money, Sex, and Death: Gender Bias in Wrongful Death Damage Awards

Jane Goodman, Elizabeth F. Loftus, Marian Miller and Edith Greene
Law & Society Review
Vol. 25, No. 2, Special Issue on Gender and Sociolegal Studies (1991), pp. 263-286
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053799
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053799
Page Count: 23
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Money, Sex, and Death: Gender Bias in Wrongful Death Damage Awards
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Abstract

Civil damage awards in wrongful death cases and experimental data from jury simulations reveal that male decedents are typically awarded substantially higher monetary damages than are similarly situated female decedents. These differences in treatment may arise because female decedents are perceived as worth less, female survivors are perceived as more needy, and/or male decedents are perceived to have a longer lost income stream than any female decedents. Mock jurors received written summaries of wrongful death cases stipulating to the liability of the defendant. They were asked to award an appropriate sum in damages and about the factors they considered in making these awards. Male decedents received higher awards in two separate studies. While mock jurors were sensitive to the perceived needs of the surviving spouse, the disparity in awards was primarily attributable to differences in the estimated lost income of the male and female decedents.

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