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Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees

Listed author(s):
  • Joseph Price
  • Justin Wolfers

The NBA provides an intriguing place to assess discrimination: referees and players are involved in repeated interactions in a high-pressure setting, with referees making split-second decisions that might allow implicit racial biases to become evident. We find that more personal fouls are awarded against players when they are officiated by an opposite-race officiating crew than when they are officiated by an own-race refereeing crew. These biases are sufficiently large so that they affect the outcome of an appreciable number of games. Our results do not distinguish whether the bias stems from the actions of white or black referees.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.4.1859
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 1859-1887

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:4:p:1859-1887.
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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. Kubatko Justin & Oliver Dean & Pelton Kevin & Rosenbaum Dan T, 2007. "A Starting Point for Analyzing Basketball Statistics," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 3(3), pages 1-24, July.
  3. 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 367-394, October.
  4. Örn B. Bodvarsson & Raymond T. Brastow, 1999. "A Test Of Employer Discrimination In The Nba," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(2), pages 243-255, 04.
  5. Michael A. Stoll & Steven Raphael & Harry J. Holzer, 2004. "Black Job Applicants and the Hiring Officer's Race," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 267-287, January.
  6. Kahn, Lawrence M & Sherer, Peter D, 1988. "Racial Differences in Professional Basketball Players' Compensation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 40-61, January.
  7. Marianne Bertrand & Dolly Chugh & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2005. "Implicit Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 94-98, May.
  8. Max Schanzenbach, 2005. "Racial and Sex Disparities in Prison Sentences: The Effect of District-Level Judicial Demographics," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 57-92, 01.
  9. Lawrence M. Kahn, 1991. "Discrimination in Professional Sports: A Survey of the Literature," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 395-418, April.
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