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Spatial and temporal aggregation in racial profiling

Summary

In the last decade, models of rational choice have chimed into the discussion on racial profiling, the use of race in stop and search decisions of the police. The models describe the behavior of motorists and the police and provide empirical tests to assess the question whether the police exhibit racial animus. However, existing studies have neglected the effect of spatial and temporal aggregation of the data on the application of the tests. Using data from the Florida Highway Patrol, this paper shows that regional subsets disclose policing behavior which deviates substantially from the aggregate. Broad conclusions on the absence or presence of racial prejudice are thus at risk of being unfounded. In addition, the disaggregated analysis suggests that the empirical tests implied by the rational choice models are not applicable to all observed regions. The results call for a cautious application of the tests and the interpretation of their conclusions.

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Correspondence to Dragan Ilić.

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Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Ilić, D. Spatial and temporal aggregation in racial profiling. Swiss J Economics Statistics 149, 27–56 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03399380

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03399380

JEL-Classification

  • J71
  • K42

Keywords

  • Racial Profiling
  • Crime
  • Police
  • Rational Choice
  • Outcome Test
  • Aggregation