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A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing

Felipe Goncalves and Steven Mello

American Economic Review, 2021, vol. 111, issue 5, 1406-41

Abstract: We estimate the degree to which individual police officers practice racial discrimination. Using a bunching estimation design and data from the Florida Highway Patrol, we show that minorities are less likely to receive a discount on their speeding tickets than White drivers. Disaggregating this difference to the individual police officer, we estimate that 42 percent of officers practice discrimination. We then apply our officer-level discrimination measures to various policy-relevant questions in the literature. In particular, reassigning officers across locations based on their lenience can effectively reduce the aggregate disparity in treatment.

JEL-codes: H76 J15 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1257/aer.20181607

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