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Affirmative Action and Its Mythology

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  • Roland G. Fryer Jr.
  • Glenn C. Loury

Abstract

For more than three decades, critics and supporters of affirmative action have fought for the moral high ground through ballot initiatives and lawsuits, in state legislatures, and in varied courts of public opinion. The goal of this paper is to show the clarifying power of economic reasoning to dispel some myths and misconceptions in the racial affirmative action debates. We enumerate seven commonly held (but mistaken) views one often encounters in the folklore about affirmative action (affirmative action may involve goals and timelines, but definitely not quotas, e.g.). Simple economic arguments reveal these seven views to be more myth than fact.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533005774357888
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 19 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 147-162

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:19:y:2005:i:3:p:147-162

Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533005774357888
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  1. Jimmy Chan & Erik Eyster, 2003. "Does Banning Affirmative Action Lower College Student Quality?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 858-872, June.
  2. Glenn C. Loury, 1976. "A Dynamic Theory of Racial Income Differences," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 225, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Rajiv Sethi & Rohini Somanathan, 2001. "Inequality and Segregation," Microeconomics, EconWPA 0108005, EconWPA.
  4. Alan Krueger & Jesse Rothstein & Sarah Turner, 2005. "Race, Income and College in 25 Years: The Continuing Legacy of Segregation and Discrimination," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. 94, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  5. Roland G. Freyer, Jr. & Glenn C. Loury & Tolga Yuret, 2003. "Color Blind Affirmative Action," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-131, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  6. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 2005. "Would the elimination of affirmative action affect highly qualified minority applicants? Evidence from California and Texas," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 416-434, April.
  7. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Is Equal Opportunity Enough?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 122-26, May.
  8. Roland G. Fryer & Glenn C. Loury, 2003. "Categorical Redistribution in Winner-Take-All Markets," NBER Working Papers 10104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
  10. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2003. "The Practice and Proscription of Affirmative Action in Higher Education:An Equilibrium Analysis," NBER Working Papers 9799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn, 1993. "Antidiscrimination Enforcement and the Problem of Patronization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 92-98, May.
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