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A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department

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Author Info

  • Kate Antonovics

    (Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego)

  • Brian G. Knight

    (Department of Economics, Brown University)

Abstract

This paper provides new evidence on racial profiling using information on the race of both motorists and officers. Extending the model of Knowles, Persico, and Todd (2001), we develop a new test for distinguishing between preference-based and statistical discrimination. Our test is based on the notion that if search decisions are driven purely by statistical discrimination, then they should be independent of officer race. Our results, by contrast, demonstrate that officers are more likely to search if officer race and driver race differ. We then investigate and rule out two alternative explanations for our findings. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/rest.91.1.163
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 91 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 163-177

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:1:p:163-177

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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  1. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, . ""Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence''," CARESS Working Papres 99-06, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang, 2006. "An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 127-151, March.
  5. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, . "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," IPR working papers 97-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  6. Jeff Dominitz, 2003. "How Do the Laws of Probability Constrain Legislative and Judicial Efforts to Stop Racial Profiling?," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 412-432, August.
  7. David Bjerk, 2007. "Racial Profiling, Statistical Discrimination, and the Effect of a Colorblind Policy on the Crime Rate," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(3), pages 521-545, 06.
  8. 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.
  9. Yatchew, Adonis & Griliches, Zvi, 1985. "Specification Error in Probit Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 134-39, February.
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