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Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Additional Theory and Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Dhammika Dharmapala

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Stephen L. Ross

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Knowles, Persico, and Todd (2001) develop a model of police search and offender behavior. Their model implies that if police are unprejudiced the rate of guilt should not vary across groups. Using data from Interstate 95 in Maryland, they find equal guilt rates for African-Americans and whites and conclude that the data is not consistent with racial prejudice against African-Americans. This paper generalizes the model of Knowles, Persico, and Todd by accounting for the fact that potential offenders are frequently not observed by the police and by including two different levels of offense severity. The paper shows that for African-American males the data is consistent with prejudice against African-American males, no prejudice, and reverse discrimination depending on the form of equilibria that exists in the economy. Additional analyses based on stratification by type of vehicle and time of day were conducted, but did not shed any light on the form of equilibria that best represents the situation in Maryland during the sample period.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhammika Dharmapala & Stephen L. Ross, 2003. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Additional Theory and Evidence," Working papers 2003-12, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2003.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2003-12
    Note: Acknowledgments: We would like to thank John Knowles and the Maryland ACLU for kindly providing the data.
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Stephen L. Ross & John Yinger, 2002. "The Color of Credit: Mortgage Discrimination, Research Methodology, and Fair-Lending Enforcement," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182289, January.
    3. Donohue, John J, III & Levitt, Steven D, 2001. "The Impact of Race on Policing and Arrests," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 367-394, October.
    4. Stefan Szymanski, 2000. "A Market Test for Discrimination in the English Professional Soccer Leagues," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 590-603, June.
    5. Besanko, David & Thakor, Anjan V, 1987. "Collateral and Rationing: Sorting Equilibria in Monopolistic and Competitive Credit Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 671-689, October.
    6. Borooah, Vani K., 2001. "Racial bias in police stops and searches: an economic analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 17-37, March.
    7. Calem Paul & Stutzer Michael, 1995. "The Simple Analytics of Observed Discrimination in Credit Markets," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 189-212, July.
    8. Stephen L Ross, 2000. "Mortgage Lending, Sample Selection and Default," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 28(4), pages 581-621.
    9. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    10. Paul S. Calem & Michael J. Stutzer, 1995. "The simple analytics of observed discrimination in credit markets," Working Papers 95-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    11. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mason, Patrick L., 2007. "Driving while black: do police pass the test?," MPRA Paper 11328, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Anbarci, Nejat & Lee, Jungmin, 2014. "Detecting racial bias in speed discounting: Evidence from speeding tickets in Boston," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 11-24.
    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. Decio Coviello & Nicola Persico, 2015. "An Economic Analysis of Black-White Disparities in the New York Police Department's Stop-and-Frisk Program," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 315-360.
    5. Jack Glaser, 2006. "The efficacy and effect of racial profiling: A mathematical simulation approach," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 395-416.
    6. 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.
    7. Blumkin, Tomer & Margalioth, Yoram, 2008. "On terror, drugs and racial profiling," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 194-203, September.
    8. Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2004. "Using Hit Rate Tests to Test for Racial Bias in Law Enforcement: Vehicle Searches in Wichita," NBER Working Papers 10947, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. Jesse Kalinowski & Stephen L. Ross & Matthew B. Ross, 2017. "Endogenous Driving Behavior in Veil of Darkness Tests for Racial Profiling," Working papers 2017-03, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    11. Brady P. Horn & Jill J. Mccluskey & Ron C. Mittelhammer, 2014. "Quantifying Bias In Driving-Under-The-Influence Enforcement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 269-284, January.
    12. Rubén Hernández-Murillo & John Knowles, 2004. "Racial Profiling Or Racist Policing? Bounds Tests In Aggregate Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 959-989, August.
    13. Dragan Ilić, 2013. "Spatial and Temporal Aggregation in Racial Profiling," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 149(I), pages 27-56, March.
    14. Brock, William A. & Cooley, Jane & Durlauf, Steven N. & Navarro, Salvador, 2012. "On the observational implications of taste-based discrimination in racial profiling," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 66-78.
    15. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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