Inflammatory Political Campaigns and Racial Bias in Policing

71 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2021 Last revised: 29 Mar 2022

See all articles by Pauline A. Grosjean

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Federico Masera

University of New South Wales

Hasin Yousaf

UNSW Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2021

Abstract

Can political rallies affect the behavior of law enforcement officers towards racial minorities? Using data from 35 million traffic stops, we show that the probability that a stopped driver is Black increases by 5.74% after a Trump rally during his 2015-2016 campaign. The effect is immediate, specific to Black drivers, lasts for up to 60 days after the rally, and is not justified by changes in driver behavior. The effects are significantly larger among police officers who were initially more stringent towards Black compared to White drivers, in areas that score higher on present-day measures of racial resentment, those that experienced more racial violence during the Jim Crow era, and in former slave-holding counties. Mentions of racial issues in Trump speeches, whether explicit or implicit, exacerbate the effect of a Trump rally among officers who were initially more stringent towards Black drivers.

Keywords: Police stops, political campaign, Racial Bias

JEL Classification: D72, J15, K42

Suggested Citation

Grosjean, Pauline A. and Masera, Federico and Yousaf, Hasin, Inflammatory Political Campaigns and Racial Bias in Policing (January 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15691, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3783906

Pauline A. Grosjean (Contact Author)

UNSW Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Federico Masera

University of New South Wales ( email )

Kensington
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Hasin Yousaf

UNSW Business School ( email )

UNSW Business School
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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