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Driving while black: do police pass the test?

  • Mason, Patrick L.

Biased policing against racial and ethnic minorities is an important public policy issue. Theoretical analysis and empirical results on this issue has been plagued by an assortment of problems which confront research on the nature and significance of police discrimination against social groups. This paper presents and applies a nonparametric test that is robust to a host of methodological difficulties. We theoretically and empirically contrast our non-parametric test with other tests that are prominent in the literature. Utilizing data provided by the Florida Highway Patrol, our empirical results strongly reject the null hypothesis that FHP troopers of different races do not engage in racially biased searches of stopped drivers. More particularly, there is evidence of police bias against African American male and Latino drivers by all officers and no evidence of police bias against white male drivers by any group of officers.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 11328.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11328
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  1. David Bjerk, 2004. "Racial Profiling, Statistical Discrimination, and the Effect of a Colorblind Policy on the Crime Rate," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-11, McMaster University.
  2. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 1999. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Kate L. Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2004. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," NBER Working Papers 10634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Darity, William Jr. & Mason, Patrick L. & Stewart, James B., 2006. "The economics of identity: The origin and persistence of racial identity norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 283-305, July.
  6. Mason, Patrick L, 1999. "Male Interracial Wage Differentials: Competing Explanations," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 261-99, 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.
  8. Close Billy R & Mason Patrick Leon, 2007. "Searching for Efficient Enforcement: Officer Characteristics and Racially Biased Policing," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 263-321, September.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "The Impact of Race on Policing, Arrest Patterns, and Crime," NBER Working Papers 6784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2005. "Using Hit Rates to Test for Racial Bias in Law Enforcement: Vehicle Searches in Wichita," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-004, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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