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Does Affirmative Action Reduce Effort Incentives? A Contest Game Analysis

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Abstract

In this paper a contest game with heterogeneous players is analyzed in which heterogeneity could be the consequence of past discrimination. Based on the normative perception of the heterogeneity there are two policy options to tackle this heterogeneity: either it is ignored and the contestants are treated equally, or affirmative action is implemented which compensates discriminated players. The consequences of these two policy options are analyzed for a simple two-person contest game and it is shown that the frequently criticized trade-off between affirmative action and total effort does not exist: Instead, affirmative action fosters effort incentives. A generalization to the n-person case and to a case with a partially informed contest designer yields the same result if the participation level is similar under each policy.

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 711.07.

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Length: 27
Date of creation: 31 Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:711.07

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Keywords: Asymmetric contest; affirmative action; discrimination;

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  1. Antonio Bernardo & Eric L. Talley & Ivo Welch, 1999. "A Theory of Legal Presumptions," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm118, Yale School of Management.
  2. Harry Holzer & David Neumark, 1999. "Assessing Affirmative Action," NBER Working Papers 7323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1996. "Contest Success Functions," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 283-90, February.
  4. Stein, William E, 2002. " Asymmetric Rent-Seeking with More Than Two Contestants," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 113(3-4), pages 325-36, December.
  5. Marion, Justin, 2007. "Are bid preferences benign? The effect of small business subsidies in highway procurement auctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1591-1624, August.
  6. Qiang Fu, 2006. "A Theory of Affirmative Action in College Admissions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 420-428, July.
  7. Clark, Derek J. & Riis, Christian, 2000. "Allocation efficiency in a competitive bribery game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 109-124, May.
  8. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Glenn C. Loury, 2005. "Affirmative Action and Its Mythology," NBER Working Papers 11464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard Cornes & Roger Hartley, 2002. "Asymmetric Contests with General Technologies," Keele Economics Research Papers KERP 2002/22, Centre for Economic Research, Keele University.
  10. Kranich, Laurence, 1994. "Equal Division, Efficiency, and the Sovereign Supply of Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 178-89, March.
  11. Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1992. "Asymmetric Tournaments, Equal Opportunity Laws, and Affirmative Action: Some Experimental Results," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 511-39, May.
  12. Nitzan, Shmuel, 1994. "Modelling rent-seeking contests," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 41-60, May.
  13. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
  14. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1989. "Government procurement and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 291-308, May.
  15. Nti, Kofi O, 1999. " Rent-Seeking with Asymmetric Valuations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 415-30, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Gil S. Epstein & Yosef Mealem & Shmuel Nitzan, 2011. "Lotteries vs. All-Pay Auctions in Fair and Biased Contests," Working Papers 2011-29, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
  2. Calsamiglia, Caterina & Franke, Jörg & Rey-Biel, Pedro, 2013. "The incentive effects of affirmative action in a real-effort tournament," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 15-31.
  3. Pastine, Ivan & Pastine, Tuvana, 2012. "Student incentives and preferential treatment in college admissions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 123-130.

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