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

  • Shamena Anwar
  • Hanming Fang

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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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. 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.
  2. Riksheim, Eric C. & Chermak, Steven M., 1993. "Causes of police behavior revisited," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 353-382.
  3. Kate L. Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2004. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," NBER Working Papers 10634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. Rubén Hernández-Murillo & John Knowles, 2004. "Racial Profiling Or Racist Policing? Bounds Tests In Aggregate Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 959-989, 08.
  6. 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.
  7. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  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. 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.
  15. 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, August.
  16. Dharmapala Dhammika & Ross Stephen L, 2004. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Additional Theory and Evidence," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-23, September.
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