Title

An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence

Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Date

7-1-2004

CFDP Number

1464

CFDP Pages

34

Abstract

We exploit a simple but realistic model of trooper behavior to design empirical tests that address the following two questions. Are police monolithic in their search behavior? Is racial profiling in motor vehicle searches motivated by troopers’ desire for effective policing (statistical discrimination) or by their racial prejudice (racism)? Our tests require data sets with race information about both the motorists and troopers. When applied to vehicle stop and search data from Florida, our tests can soundly reject the null hypothesis that troopers of different races are monolithic in their search behavior, but fail to reject the null hypothesis that none of the racial groups of troopers are racially prejudiced.

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