CFDP 1464

An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence


Publication Date: July 2004

Pages: 34


We exploit a simple but realistic model of trooper behavior to design empirical tests that address the following two questions. Are police monolithic in their search behavior? Is racial profiling in motor vehicle searches motivated by troopers’ desire for effective policing (statistical discrimination) or by their racial prejudice (racism)? Our tests require data sets with race information about both the motorists and troopers. When applied to vehicle stop and search data from Florida, our tests can soundly reject the null hypothesis that troopers of different races are monolithic in their search behavior, but fail to reject the null hypothesis that none of the racial groups of troopers are racially prejudiced.


Statistical Discrimination, Racial Prejudice, Racial Profiling

JEL Classification Codes:  J7