Racism and Police Killings of Black Civilians

34 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2020 Last revised: 24 May 2021

See all articles by Jan Keil

Jan Keil

Humboldt University of Berlin

Date Written: September 12, 2020


Contrary to public opinion and high profile cases, science has not established a clear general link between police officer-involved killings of black civilians and racism. Influential studies even reported an anti-white bias in the use of fatal force. Using the largest independent database on police killings across the U.S. between 2013 and 2019 I show that the likelihood of a black citizen dying at the hands of police is significantly, positively, and robustly associated with a range of county-level indicators for extreme racial hatred. Black lives are more at risk in areas where white supremacy hate groups are located or active and where black citizens are already victims of racist hate crimes. These conditional correlations are consistent with the systemic racism hypothesis.

Keywords: police, lethal force, bias, racism

JEL Classification: Z13

Suggested Citation

Keil, Jan, Racism and Police Killings of Black Civilians (September 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3627354 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3627354

Jan Keil (Contact Author)

Humboldt University of Berlin ( email )

Dorotheenstrasse 1
Berlin, 10099

HOME PAGE: http://www.jankeil.com

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