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Assessing Racial Profiling

  • Steven N. Durlauf

In this article I consider the evaluation of racial profiling in traffic stops from a combination of welfarist and non-welfarist considerations. I argue that benefits from profiling in terms of crime reduction have not been identified and that further, the harm to those who are innocent and stopped is potentially high. I then argue that profiling creates a clear injustice to innocent African Americans. Together, these claims make the assessment of profiling an example of decision making under ambiguity. I resolve the ambiguity with a Fairness Presumption which leads me to reject profiling in traffic stops as a public policy. Copyright 2006 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2006.

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File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2006.01129.x
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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 116 (2006)
Issue (Month): 515 (November)
Pages: F402-F426

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:116:y:2006:i:515:p:f402-f426
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  1. John E. Roemer, 2003. "Eclectic Distributional Ethics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1408, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Sen, Amartya, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 152-57, Jan.-Feb..
  3. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2001. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 203-232, February.
  4. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2001. "Any Non-welfarist Method of Policy Assessment Violates the Pareto Principle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 281-286, April.
  5. Charles Manski, 2003. "Statistical treatment rules for heterogeneous populations," CeMMAP working papers CWP03/03, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
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