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Can racially unbiased police perpetuate long-run discrimination?

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  • Bunzel, Helle
  • Marcoul, Philippe

Abstract

We develop a stylized dynamic model of highway policing in which a non-racist police officer is given incentives to arrest criminals, but faces a per stop cost of stop which increases when the racial mix of the persons he stops di.ers from the racial mix of the population.We define the fair jail rate to be when the racial composition of the jail population is identical to the racial composition of the criminal population.We study the long-term racial composition of the jail population when the policeman decides whom to stop based only on his last period successes in arresting criminals.The study of this "imperfect recall" case shows, consistent with empirical findings, that the long term racial jail rate is always greater than the fair one and the gap increases when incentives are made more powerful.We then study this rate when policemen are provided with data concerning conviction rates for each race, similar to the data which is now being collected in many states.In this case, we find that although the long term rate is still greater than the fair rate, it is smaller than that obtained in the imperfect recall case.We discuss the desirability of such data collection and dissemination of information among police officers.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 36-47

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:68:y:2008:i:1:p:36-47

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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References

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  1. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Public Policy in a Model of Long-Term Unemployment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(246), pages 161-78, May.
  3. Farmer, Amy & Terrell, Dek, 1996. "Discrimination, Bayesian Updating of Employer Beliefs and Human Capital Accumulation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(2), pages 204-19, April.
  4. Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2003. "Racial Beliefs, Location and the Causes of Crime," Working Paper Series 602, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  5. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
  6. Chakravarty, Shanti P., 2002. "Economic analysis of police stops and searches: a critique," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 597-605, September.
  7. 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.
  8. Bruno Biais & Denis Hilton & Karine Mazurier & Sébastien Pouget, 2005. "Judgemental Overconfidence, Self-Monitoring, and Trading Performance in an Experimental Financial Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 287-312.
  9. Moro,A. & Norman,P., 2001. "A general equilibrium model of statistical discrimination," Working papers 4, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  10. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 1999. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lu�s Santos-Pinto & Joel Sobel, 2005. "A Model of Positive Self-Image in Subjective Assessments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1386-1402, December.
  12. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  13. Markus Glaser & Martin Weber, 2007. "Overconfidence and trading volume," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 1-36, June.
  14. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226041162, March.
  15. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
  16. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, And Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292, February.
  17. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
  19. Ján Zábojník, 2004. "A model of rational bias in self-assessments," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 259-282, January.
  20. Eric Van den Steen, 2004. "Rational Overoptimism (and Other Biases)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1141-1151, September.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2004. "Using Hit Rate Tests to Test for Racial Bias in Law Enforcement: Vehicle Searches in Wichita," NBER Working Papers 10947, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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