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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 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

Suggested Citation

  • Rubén Hernández-Murillo & John Knowles, 2004. "Racial profiling or racist policing? bounds tests in aggregate data," Working Papers 2004-012, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2004-012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. 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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    Cited by:

    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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    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. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Hugo Mialon & Sue Mialon, 2008. "The Economics of Search Warrants," Emory Economics 0810, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. Trevor G. Gardner, 2014. "Racial Profiling as Collective Definition," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 2(3), pages 052-059.

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    Keywords

    Households ; Public policy;

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