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A Simple Theoretical Argument for Affrmative Action

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  • Laurence Kranich
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    Abstract

    We consider a society which is jointly committed to the principle of equal opportunity and to increasing aggregate wealth. However, the society faces the vestiges of past discrimination in the form of a historically skewed distribution of social resources. We consider the problem of allocating the existing quantity of social inputs, and we contrast two policy instruments to redress past differences: redistributing resources in order to compensate for, or offset, the effect of the asymmetry on productive abilities, or granting preferential treatment in employment to members of the disadvantaged group (affirmative action). We show that society is generally better off with affirmative action than without it, and, indeed, that a socially optimal policy may rely solely on affirmative action.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 12-05.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:nya:albaec:12-05

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    Postal: Department of Economics, BA 110 University at Albany State University of New York Albany, NY 12222 U.S.A.
    Phone: (518) 442-4735
    Fax: (518) 442-4736

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    Postal: Department of Economics, BA 110 University at Albany State University of New York Albany, NY 12222 U.S.A.
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    Web: http://www.albany.edu/economics/research/workingp/index.shtml

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    1. Kim-Sau Chung, 2000. "Role Models and Arguments for Affirmative Action," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 640-648, June.
    2. Caterina Calsamiglia & Jörg Franke & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2009. "The Incentive Effects of Affirmative Action in a Real-Effort Tournament," Working Papers 404, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Qiang Fu, 2006. "A Theory of Affirmative Action in College Admissions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 420-428, July.
    4. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Glenn Loury, 2010. "Valuing Identity," NBER Working Papers 16568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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