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Does Affirmative Action Work? Caste, Gender, College Quality, and Academic Success in India

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  • Surendrakumar Bagde
  • Dennis Epple
  • Lowell Taylor

Abstract

Public policy in modern India features affirmative action programs intended to reduce inequality that stems from a centuries-old caste structure and history of disparate treatment by gender. We study the effects of one such affirmative action program: an admissions policy that fixes percentage quotas, common across more than 200 engineering colleges, for disadvantaged castes and for women. We show that the program increases college attendance of targeted students, particularly at relatively higher-quality institutions. An important concern is that affirmative action might harm intended beneficiaries by placing them in academic programs for which they are ill-prepared. We find no evidence of such adverse impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Surendrakumar Bagde & Dennis Epple & Lowell Taylor, 2016. "Does Affirmative Action Work? Caste, Gender, College Quality, and Academic Success in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(6), pages 1495-1521, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:6:p:1495-1521
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20140783
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "The Changing Contours of Intergroup Disparities and the Role of Preferential Policies in a Globalizing World- Evidence from India," Working papers 267, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    2. Basant, Rakesh & Sen, Gitanjali, 2016. "Impact of Affirmative Action in Higher Education for the Other Backward Classes in India," IIMA Working Papers WP2016-07-01, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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