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Racial Bias in Traffic Stops: Tests of a Unified Model of Stops and Searches

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  • Ritter, Joseph A.

Abstract

This paper develops a model of traffic stops and subsequent searches in which police officers use information about the race of drivers to maximize a well defined objective. The model provides a behavioral foundation absent from Grogger and Ridgeway’s (2006) elegantly simple test and, by incorporating searches, adds two complementary tests. Using data collected during 2002 by the Minneapolis Police Department, the tests rule out (1) statistical discrimination, (2) taste-based discrimination by optimizing police officers, and (3) statistical discrimination with cognitive limitations. The pattern of results is consistent with implicit discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Ritter, Joseph A., 2013. "Racial Bias in Traffic Stops: Tests of a Unified Model of Stops and Searches," Miscellaneous Publications 152496, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:umaemp:152496
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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/152496
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    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. Close Billy R & Mason Patrick L, 2006. "After the Traffic Stops: Officer Characteristics and Enforcement Actions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-43, December.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Marianne Bertrand & Dolly Chugh & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2005. "Implicit Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 94-98, May.
    7. Samuel L. Myers, 2002. "Analysis of racial profiling as policy analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 287-300.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matt E. Ryan, 2016. "Frisky business: race, gender and police activity during traffic stops," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 65-83, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutional and Behavioral Economics; Public Economics;

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