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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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David Arnold

Industrial Relations Section
Louis A. Simpson International Bldg.
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-2098

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Institutional Affiliation: Princeton University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2017Racial Bias in Bail Decisions
with Will Dobbie, Crystal S. Yang: w23421
This paper develops a new test for identifying racial bias in the context of bail decisions – a high-stakes setting with large disparities between white and black defendants. We motivate our analysis using Becker's (1957) model of racial bias, which predicts that rates of pre-trial misconduct will be identical for marginal white and marginal black defendants if bail judges are racially unbiased. In contrast, marginal white defendants will have a higher probability of misconduct than marginal black defendants if bail judges are racially biased against blacks. To test the model, we develop a new estimator that uses the release tendencies of quasi-randomly assigned bail judges to identify the relevant race-specific misconduct rates. Estimates from Miami and Philadelphia show that bail judges ...

Published: David Arnold & Will Dobbie & Crystal S Yang, 2018. "Racial Bias in Bail Decisions*," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol 133(4), pages 1885-1932.

 
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