Racial Profiling, Statistical Discrimination, and the Effect of a Colorblind Policy on the Crime Rate

25 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2007

See all articles by David Bjerk

David Bjerk

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

This paper develops a model of racial profiling by law enforcement officers when officers observe both an individual's race as well as a noisy signal of his or her guilt that depends on whether or not a crime has been committed. The model shows that given officers observe such a guilt signal, data regarding the guilt rate among those investigated from each race will not be sufficient for determining whether racially unequal investigation rates are due to statistical discrimination or racial bias on the part of officers. The model also reveals that when racially unequal investigation rates are due to statistical discrimination, imposing a colorblind policy on officers can increase, decrease, or have little effect on the crime rate, depending on specific characteristics of the jurisdiction and the crime in question.

Suggested Citation

Bjerk, David, Racial Profiling, Statistical Discrimination, and the Effect of a Colorblind Policy on the Crime Rate. Journal of Public Economic Theory, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 521-545, June 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1066070 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9779.2007.00318.x

David Bjerk (Contact Author)

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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