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Speed Discounting and Racial Disparities: Evidence from Speeding Tickets in Boston

Author

Listed:
  • Anbarci, Nejat

    () (Deakin University)

  • Lee, Jungmin

    () (Seoul National University)

Abstract

Law enforcement officers are allowed to exercise a significant amount of street-level discretion in a variety of ways. In this paper, we focus on a particular prominent kind of discretionary behavior by traffic officers when issuing speeding tickets, speed discounting. Officers partially forgive motorists by writing a lower speed level than the speed that officers observe. Verifying the level of speed discounting by different groups of officers and motorists and ascertaining the presence of racial disparities in this lenient policing are the main objectives of this paper. We find that minority officers, particularly African-Americans, are harsher on all motorists but even harsher on minority motorists regarding speed discounting. The minority-on-minority disparity appears to be stronger in situations involving Hispanic officers, infrequently ticketing officers, male motorists, those driving old vehicles, and minority neighborhoods.

Suggested Citation

  • Anbarci, Nejat & Lee, Jungmin, 2008. "Speed Discounting and Racial Disparities: Evidence from Speeding Tickets in Boston," IZA Discussion Papers 3903, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3903
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    Cited by:

    1. Dara Lee Luca, 2015. "Do Traffic Tickets Reduce Motor Vehicle Accidents? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(1), pages 85-106, January.
    2. Laura Giuliano & David I. Levine & Jonathan Leonard, 2011. "Racial Bias in the Manager-Employee Relationship: An Analysis of Quits, Dismissals, and Promotions at a Large Retail Firm," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 26-52.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    police discretion; disparate treatment; racial bias; speeding tickets;

    JEL classification:

    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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