Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence
AbstractPolice checking for illegal drugs are much more likely to search the vehicles of African-American motorists than those of white motorists. This paper develops a model of police and motorist behavior that suggests an empirical test for distinguishing whether this disparity is due to racial prejudice or to the police's objective to maximize arrests. When applied to vehicle search data from Maryland, our test results are consistent with the hypothesis of no racial prejudice against African-American motorists. However, if police have utility only for searches yielding large drug finds, then our analysis would suggest bias against white drivers. The model's prediction regarding nonrace characteristics is also largely supported by the data.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.
Volume (Year): 109 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/
Other versions of this item:
- 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.
- 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.
- John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, . "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Penn CARESS Working Papers 5940d5c4875c571776fb29700, Penn Economics Department.
- J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
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