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What Determines Public Support for Affirmative Action?

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Author Info

  • Murat F. Iyigun

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Colorado)

  • Andrew T. Levin

    ()
    (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)

Abstract

We present a public higher-education finance model in which demand for education can exceed supply because of indivisibilities in educational investment. In such situations, a screening mechanism—which may exhibit a selection system bias—is required for allocation. We show how changes in the education premium and the test score gap between the minority and the majority might affect political support for affirmative action. When the education premium is relatively low, the matching efficiency gains provided by affirmative action are high compared with the opportunity cost of not acquiring education, and the majority supports affirmative action. When the education premium is high, the opportunity cost of not getting educated is high relative to the matching efficiency gains provided by affirmative action policies, and the majority's support for affirmative action is weaker. In contrast, a higher test score bias has a generally ambigious effect on the majority's political support. If the test score bias is sufficiently large, however, the majority does support affirmative action.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 69 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (January)
Pages: 612-627

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:69:3:y:2003:p:612-627

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Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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  1. Fernández, Raquel & Galí, Jordi, 1997. "To Each According To...? Markets, Tournaments, and the Matching Problem with Borrowing Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 1627, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. repec:fth:prinin:377 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 1997. " Democratic Choice of an Education System: Implications for Growth and Income Distribution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 169-83, July.
  6. Raquel Fernandez, 1998. "Education and Borrowing Constraints: Tests vs. Prices," NBER Working Papers 6588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  8. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-26, February.
  9. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn, 1993. "Antidiscrimination Enforcement and the Problem of Patronization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 92-98, May.
  10. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
  11. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
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