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Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees

Author

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  • Joseph Price
  • Justin Wolfers

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1859-1887.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:4:p:1859-1887.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.4.1859
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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, April.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Dolly Chugh & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2005. "Implicit Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 94-98, May.
    6. 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, January.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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