Speed Discounting and Racial Disparities: Evidence from Speeding Tickets in Boston

48 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2008

See all articles by Nejat Anbarci

Nejat Anbarci

Deakin University - Department of Economics

Jungmin Lee

FIU; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Law enforcement officers are allowed to exercise a significant amount of street-level discretion in a variety of ways. In this paper, we focus on a particular prominent kind of discretionary behavior by traffic officers when issuing speeding tickets, speed discounting. Officers partially forgive motorists by writing a lower speed level than the speed that officers observe. Verifying the level of speed discounting by different groups of officers and motorists and ascertaining the presence of racial disparities in this lenient policing are the main objectives of this paper. We find that minority officers, particularly African-Americans, are harsher on all motorists but even harsher on minority motorists regarding speed discounting. The minority-on-minority disparity appears to be stronger in situations involving Hispanic officers, infrequently ticketing officers, male motorists, those driving old vehicles, and minority neighborhoods.

Keywords: police discretion, disparate treatment, racial bias, speeding tickets

JEL Classification: J70, K42

Suggested Citation

Anbarci, Nejat and Lee, Jungmin, Speed Discounting and Racial Disparities: Evidence from Speeding Tickets in Boston. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3903. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1318862

Nejat Anbarci (Contact Author)

Deakin University - Department of Economics ( email )

70 Elgar road
Burwood, Victoria 3215
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://www.deakin.edu.au/~nejata/

Jungmin Lee

FIU ( email )

University Park
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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