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Assessing Racial Profiling

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  • Steven N. Durlauf

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven N. Durlauf, 2006. "Assessing Racial Profiling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 402-426, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:116:y:2006:i:515:p:f402-f426
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    1. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Sen, Amartya, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 152-157, 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. John E. Roemer, 2004. "Eclectic distributional ethics," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 3(3), pages 267-281, October.
    5. Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Statistical Treatment Rules for Heterogeneous Populations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(4), pages 1221-1246, July.
    6. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Steven N. Durlauf, 2005. "Racial Profiling as a Public Policy Question: Efficiency, Equity, and Ambiguity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 132-136, May.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 2006. "Search Profiling With Partial Knowledge of Deterrence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 385-401, November.
    3. Ethan Cohen-Cole & Steven Durlauf & Jeffrey Fagan & Daniel Nagin, 2008. "Model Uncertainty and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 335-369.
    4. Sarah Marx Quintanar, 2009. "Man vs. Machine: An Investigation of Speeding Ticket Disparities Based on Gender and Race," Departmental Working Papers 2009-16, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    5. Liu, Xiaodong & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves & Lee, Lung-Fei, 2011. "Criminal Networks: Who is the Key Player?," Research Papers in Economics 2011:7, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    6. Aronsson, Thomas & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2011. "Animal Welfare and Social Decisions," Working Papers in Economics 485, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    7. Brock, William A. & Cooley, Jane & Durlauf, Steven N. & Navarro, Salvador, 2012. "On the observational implications of taste-based discrimination in racial profiling," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 66-78.

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