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An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence

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  • Shamena Anwar
  • Hanming Fang

Abstract

We propose a simple model of trooper behavior to design empirical tests for whether troopers of different races are monolithic in their search behavior, and whether they exhibit relative racial prejudice in motor vehicle searches. Our test of relative racial prejudice provides a partial solution to the well-known infra-marginality and omitted-variables problems associated with outcome tests. When applied to a unique dataset from Florida, our tests soundly reject the hypothesis that troopers of different races are monolithic in their search behavior, but the tests fail to reject the hypothesis that troopers of different races do not exhibit relative racial prejudice.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 127-151

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:1:p:127-151

Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282806776157579
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  1. David Bjerk, 2004. "Racial Profiling, Statistical Discrimination, and the Effect of a Colorblind Policy on the Crime Rate," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-11, McMaster University.
  2. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
  3. Borooah, Vani K., 2001. "Racial bias in police stops and searches: an economic analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 17-37, March.
  4. Donohue, John J, III & Levitt, Steven D, 2001. "The Impact of Race on Policing and Arrests," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 367-94, October.
  5. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, . "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Penn CARESS Working Papers 5940d5c4875c571776fb29700, Penn Economics Department.
  6. Dhammika Dharmapala & Stephen L. Ross, 2003. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Additional Theory and Evidence," Working papers 2003-12, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2003.
  7. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
  8. Rubén Hernández-Murillo & John Knowles, 2004. "Racial profiling or racist policing? bounds tests in aggregate data," Working Papers 2004-012, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  9. Kate Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2009. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 163-177, February.
  10. Stephen L. Ross, 2003. "What Is Known about Testing for Discrimination: Lessons Learned by Comparing across Different Markets," Working papers 2003-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2003.
  11. Jeff Dominitz & John Knowles, 2006. "Crime minimisation and racial bias: what can we learn from police search data?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages F368-F384, November.
  12. Stephen L. Ross & John Yinger, 2002. "The Color of Credit: Mortgage Discrimination, Research Methodology, and Fair-Lending Enforcement," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182289, December.
  13. Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2005. "Using Hit Rates to Test for Racial Bias in Law Enforcement: Vehicle Searches in Wichita," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-004, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  14. Riksheim, Eric C. & Chermak, Steven M., 1993. "Causes of police behavior revisited," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 353-382.
  15. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  16. Becker, Gary S, 1993. "Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 385-409, June.
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