Coherent Identifier About this item: 20.500.12592/64fbwp

Endogenous Driving Behavior in Tests of Racial Profiling

13 May 2021


African-American motorists may adjust their driving in response to increased scrutiny by police. In daylight, when their race is more easily observable, minority motorists are the only group less likely to have fatal motor vehicle accidents. In Massachusetts and Tennessee, we find that African-Americans are the only group of stopped motorists with slower speeds in daylight. Consistent with an illustrative model, these speed shifts are concentrated at higher percentiles of the distribution. Calibration of this model indicates this behavior creates substantial bias in conventional tests of discrimination that rely on changes in the odds a stopped motorist is a minority.



other public economics law and economics labor economics labor discrimination poverty and wellbeing health, education, and welfare regional and urban economics

Acknowledgements & Disclosure
For insightful comments, we thank Talia Bar, Patrick Bayer, Hanming Fang, Felipe Goncalves, Jeffrey Grogger, William Horrace, John MacDonald, Steve Mello, Magne Mogstad, Greg Ridgeway, Shawn Rohlin, Jesse Shapiro, Austin Smith, Jeremy D. West, John Yinger and Bo Zhao. We also thank participants at the NBER Summer Institute 2017 Law and Economics Workshop, 2017 Association for Policy Analysis and Management 2017 Research Conference, Syracuse University, University at Albany, 2016 Urban Economics Meetings, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Miami University of Ohio, University of Connecticut, and Ohio State University. We are also grateful for the help of Bill Dedman who provided us with the Massachusetts traffic stop data from his 2003 Boston Globe article with Francie Latour and Sharad Goel and the Stanford Open Policing Project for providing the Tennessee Highway Patrol stop data, as well as Ken Barone and James Fazzalaro for their invaluable perspective on policing. All remaining errors are our own. This research has not been directly funded by any outside agency. However, J. Kalinowski and M. Ross acknowledge prior support from the State of Connecticut and the State of Rhode Island to analyze and conduct research on racial bias in traffic stops. All data used in this study is administrative in nature and publicly available, and so not subject to IRB review. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Create your FREE account to get started