Crime Minimisation and Racial Bias: What Can We Learn from Police Search Data?

17 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2006

See all articles by Jeff Dominitz

Jeff Dominitz

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; RAND Corporation

John Knowles

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Is variation by motorist race in the success rate of searches informative about racial bias if police are motivated by crime minimisation rather than success-rate maximisation? We show that the basic idea of extracting information from 'hit rates' may still be valid, provided one can verify some simple restrictions on the joint distribution of criminality by race. We also extend these results to the case where the police minimise the rate of unpunished crime.

Suggested Citation

Dominitz, Jeff and Knowles, John, Crime Minimisation and Racial Bias: What Can We Learn from Police Search Data?. Economic Journal, Vol. 116, No. 515, pp. F368-F384, November 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=946515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2006.01127.x

Jeff Dominitz (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

John Knowles

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7701 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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