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Affirmative action in education: Evidence from engineering college admissions in India

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  • Bertrand, Marianne
  • Hanna, Rema
  • Mullainathan, Sendhil

Abstract

This paper examines an affirmative action program for "lower-caste" groups in engineering colleges in India. We study both the targeting properties of the program, and its implications for labor market outcomes. We find that affirmative action successfully targets the financially disadvantaged: the upper-caste applicants that are displaced by affirmative action come from a richer economic background than the lower-caste applicants that are displacing them. Targeting by caste, however, may lead to the exclusion of other disadvantaged groups. For example, caste-based targeting reduces the overall number of females entering engineering colleges. We find that despite poor entrance exam scores, lower-caste entrants obtain a positive return to admission. Our estimates, however, also suggest that these gains may come at an absolute cost because the income losses experienced by displaced upper-caste applicants are larger than the income gains experienced by displacing lower-caste students. Limited sample sizes in our preferred econometric specifications, however, prevent us from drawing strong conclusions from these labor market findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
Pages: 16-29

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:1-2:p:16-29

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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Keywords: Education Affirmative action Discrimination Development;

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References

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  1. Jesse Rothstein & Albert Yoon, 2006. "Mismatch in Law School," Working Papers 79, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  2. J. Fitzgerald & P. Gottschalk & R. Moffitt, . "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1156-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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  5. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1984. "Affirmative Action as Earnings Redistribution: The Targeting of Compliance Reviews," NBER Working Papers 1328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
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  8. Peter Arcidiacono, 2005. "Affirmative Action in Higher Education: How Do Admission and Financial Aid Rules Affect Future Earnings?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1477-1524, 09.
  9. Harry Holzer & David Neumark, 1999. "Assessing Affirmative Action," NBER Working Papers 7323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Chin, Aimee & Prakash, Nishith, 2011. "The redistributive effects of political reservation for minorities: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 265-277, November.
  2. Maria Eduarda Tannuri Pianto & Andrew Francis, 2011. "The Redistributive Efficacy Ofaffirmative Action: Exploring The Role Of Race And Socioeconomic Statusin College Admissions," Anais do XXXVIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 38th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 218, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  3. Klasen, Stephan & Pieters, Janneke, 2013. "What Explains the Stagnation of Female Labor Force Participation in Urban India?," IZA Discussion Papers 7597, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. World Bank, 2011. "Perspectives on Poverty in India : Stylized Facts from Survey Data," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2299, January.
  5. Mehtabul Azam, 2012. "A distributional analysis of social group inequality in rural India," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 415-432, 05.
  6. Francis, Andrew M. & Tannuri-Pianto, Maria, 2012. "The redistributive equity of affirmative action: Exploring the role of race, socioeconomic status, and gender in college admissions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 45-55.
  7. Azam, Mehtabul & Prakash, Nishith, 2010. "A Distributional Analysis of the Public-Private Wage Differential in India," IZA Discussion Papers 5132, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Kumar, Sunil Mitra, 2013. "Does Access to Formal Agricultural Credit Depend on Caste?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 315-328.

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