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The impact of legacy status on undergraduate admissions at elite colleges and universities

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  • Hurwitz, Michael
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    Abstract

    In this paper, I examine the impact of legacy status on admissions decisions at 30 highly selective colleges and universities. Unlike other quantitative studies addressing this topic, I use conditional logistic regression with fixed effects for colleges to draw conclusions about the impact of legacy status on admissions odds. By doing so, I eliminate most sources of outcome bias by controlling for applicant characteristics that are constant across colleges and college characteristics that are constant across applicants. I estimate that the odds of admission are multiplied by a factor 3.13 due to legacy status. My results also suggest that the magnitude of this legacy admissions advantage depends greatly on the nature of the familial ties between the applicant and the outcome college, and, to a lesser extent, the selectivity of the outcome college and the applicant's academic strength.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (June)
    Pages: 480-492

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:3:p:480-492

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

    Related research

    Keywords: Legacy College admissions Selective colleges Conditional logistic regression Admissions preferences;

    References

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    1. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Terry Long, B.Bridget, 2004. "How have college decisions changed over time? An application of the conditional logistic choice model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 271-296.
    3. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
    4. Christopher Avery & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Early Admission at Selective Colleges," Discussion Papers 08-031, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    5. Jensen, Elizabeth J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Early decision and college performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 517-525, August.
    6. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," NBER Working Papers 15272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
    8. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2008. "The Impact of Athletic Performance on Alumni Giving: An Analysis of Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 13937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Thomas J. Espenshade & Chang Y. Chung & Joan L. Walling, 2004. "Admission Preferences for Minority Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities-super-," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1422-1446.
    10. Eide, Eric & Brewer, Dominic J. & Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 1998. "Does it pay to attend an elite private college? Evidence on the effects of undergraduate college quality on graduate school attendance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 371-376, October.
    11. Holmes, Jessica, 2009. "Prestige, charitable deductions and other determinants of alumni giving: Evidence from a highly selective liberal arts college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 18-28, February.
    12. Gordon C. Winston, 1999. "Subsidies, Hierarchy and Peers: The Awkward Economics of Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 13-36, Winter.
    13. Cameron Howell & Sarah E. Turner, 2003. "Legacies in Black and White: The Racial Composition of the Legacy Pool," NBER Working Papers 9448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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