This article develops and empirically tests two theories of the causes of variation in levels of litigation in the United States: that litigation rates are affected by political structure and by economic strength. Fragmented political power results in less detailed legislation and a more powerful judiciary, which increases the demand for judicial action. Economic strength is positively associated with high rates of litigation, rather than being stymied by it. This article tests these claims using state-level civil filings data over 25 years and finds both political and economic factors to be highly determinative of litigation rates.
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