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Racial profiling or racist policing? bounds tests in aggregate data

  • Rubén Hernández-Murillo
  • John Knowles

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 paper develops a model of police search decisions that allows for non-discretionary searches and derives tests for racial bias in data that mixes different search types. Our tests reject unbiased policing as an explanation of the disparate impact of motor-vehicle searches on minorities in Missouri

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2004-012.

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Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in International Economic Review, August 2004, 45(3), pp. 959-89
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2004-012
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  1. Guido W. Imbens & Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Confidence Intervals for Partially Identified Parameters," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1845-1857, November.
  2. John Pepper & Brent Kreider, 2001. "Inferring Disability Status from Corrupt Data," Virginia Economics Online Papers 354, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  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. repec:att:wimass:9217 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. 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.
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