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On the observational implications of taste-based discrimination in racial profiling

Author

Listed:
  • Brock, William A.
  • Cooley, Jane
  • Durlauf, Steven N.
  • Navarro, Salvador

Abstract

This paper contributes to a growing literature that attempts to determine whether disparities in police stops and searches of potential criminals of different races stem from taste-based discrimination. The key challenge in making this evaluation is that police officers have more information than the econometrician and thus racial disparities in police behavior may result from these unobservable factors rather than discrimination. We develop a general equilibrium model of police and potential criminal behavior that encompasses key models in the literature. We highlight the assumptions needed for existing methods of detecting racial discrimination to hold. In particular, we show that when there are increasing costs to search, existing tests for discrimination can give incorrect results. Given the potential importance of these costs, we then propose some alternate methods for detecting racial bias in police behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:166:y:2012:i:1:p:66-78
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeconom.2011.06.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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 368-384, November.
    3. Sarath Sanga, 2009. "Reconsidering Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(6), pages 1155-1159, December.
    4. David Bjerk, 2007. "Racial Profiling, Statistical Discrimination, and the Effect of a Colorblind Policy on the Crime Rate," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(3), pages 521-545, June.
    5. 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.
    6. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
    7. William A. Brock, 2006. "Profiling Problems With Partially Identified Structure," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 427-440, November.
    8. Charles F. Manski, 2006. "Search Profiling With Partial Knowledge of Deterrence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 385-401, November.
    9. Grogger, Jeffrey & Ridgeway, Greg, 2006. "Testing for Racial Profiling in Traffic Stops From Behind a Veil of Darkness," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 101, pages 878-887, September.
    10. Nicola Persico, 2009. "Racial Profiling? Detecting Bias Using Statistical Evidence," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 229-254, May.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Steven N. Durlauf, 2006. "Assessing Racial Profiling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(515), pages 402-426, November.
    14. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2008. "Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 773-809, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhattacharya, Debopam, 2013. "Evaluating treatment protocols using data combination," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 173(2), pages 160-174.
    2. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9538-6 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Racial profiling; Discrimination; Identification;

    JEL classification:

    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior

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