David Arnold, Will Dobbie & Crystal S. Yang, Comment on Canay, Mogstad, and Mountjoy (Sept. 1, 2020).
Abstract: In Arnold, Dobbie, and Yang (2018, ADY), we find that marginally released white defendants have higher rates of pre-trial misconduct than marginally released black defendants. We interpret these findings as evidence of racial bias against black defendants through the lens of the marginal outcome test originally developed by Becker (1957). Canay, Mogstad, and Mountjoy (2020, CMM) question the interpretation of our empirical findings and the logical validity of the marginal outcome test. However, CMM’s conclusions are based on an incomplete definition of racial bias that is different from the one used in ADY. Under ADY’s definition of bias, the marginal outcome test is logically valid and a useful tool for studying discrimination in real-world settings.