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Racial profiling or racist policing? bounds tests in aggregate data

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  • Rubén Hernández-Murillo
  • John Knowles

Abstract

State-wide reports on police traffic stops and searches summarize very large populations, making them potentially powerful tools for identifying racial bias, particularly when statistics on search outcomes are included. But when the reported statistics conflate searches involving different levels of police discretion, standard tests for racial bias are not applicable. This paper develops a model of police search decisions that allows for non-discretionary searches and derives tests for racial bias in data that mixes different search types. Our tests reject unbiased policing as an explanation of the disparate impact of motor-vehicle searches on minorities in Missouri

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2004-012.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Publication status: Published in International Economic Review, August 2004, 45(3), pp. 959-89
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2004-012

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Keywords: Households ; Public policy;

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  1. John V. Pepper, 2000. "The Intergenerational Transmission Of Welfare Receipt: A Nonparametric Bounds Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 472-488, August.
  2. Brent Kreider & John Pepper, 2008. "Inferring disability status from corrupt data," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 329-349.
  3. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Guido Imbens & Charles F. Manski, 2003. "Confidence intervals for partially identified parameters," CeMMAP working papers CWP09/03, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Bunzel, H. & Marcoul, P., 2003. "Can Racially Unbiased Police Perpetuate Long-Run Discrimination?," Discussion Paper 2003-16, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  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. Horowitz, Joel L & Manski, Charles F, 1995. "Identification and Robustness with Contaminated and Corrupted Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 281-302, March.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bunzel, Helle & Marcoul, Philippe, 2003. "Can Racially Unbiased Police Perpetuate Long-Run Discrimination?," Staff General Research Papers 10200, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Hugo Mialon & Sue Mialon, 2008. "The Economics of Search Warrants," Emory Economics 0810, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  6. Nicola Persico & Petra E. Todd, 2005. "Passenger Profiling, Imperfect Screening, and Airport Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 127-131, May.
  7. Marco Cozzi, 2010. "Accounting for the Racial Property Crime Gap in the US: A Quantitative Equilibrium Analysis," Working Papers 1233, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. Brian Williams & Michael Stahl, 2008. "An analysis of police traffic stops and searches in Kentucky: a mixed methods approach offering heuristic and practical implications," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 221-243, September.

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