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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 article develops a model of police search decisions that allows for nondiscretionary searches and derives tests for racial bias in data that mix different search types. Our tests reject unbiased policing as an explanation of the disparate impact of motor-vehicle searches on minorities in Missouri. Copyright 2004 by the Economics Department Of The University Of Pennsylvania And Osaka University Institute Of Social And Economic Research Association.

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  • 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, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:45:y:2004:i:3:p:959-989
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Bunzel, Helle & Marcoul, Philippe, 2008. "Can racially unbiased police perpetuate long-run discrimination?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 36-47, October.
    6. Guido W. Imbens & Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Confidence Intervals for Partially Identified Parameters," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1845-1857, November.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Ritter, Joseph A., 2017. "How do police use race in traffic stops and searches? Tests based on observability of race," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 82-98.
    3. Bunzel, Helle & Marcoul, Philippe, 2008. "Can racially unbiased police perpetuate long-run discrimination?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 36-47, October.
    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. 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.
    6. Hugo Mialon & Sue Mialon, 2008. "The Economics of Search Warrants," Emory Economics 0810, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    7. Christopher Cotton & Cheng Li, 2015. "Profiling, Screening, and Criminal Recruitment," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(6), pages 964-985, December.
    8. Antonio Merlo, 2004. "Introduction To Economic Models Of Crime," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 677-679, August.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Trevor G. Gardner, 2014. "Racial Profiling as Collective Definition," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 2(3), pages 052-059.
    12. 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.
    13. Ritter, Joseph A., 2017. "How do police use race in traffic stops and searches? Tests based on observability of race," Miscellaneous Publications 253354, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    14. 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;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 41(3), pages 221-243, September.

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