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Affirmative Action: One Size Does Not Fit All

Author

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  • Kala Krishna
  • Alexander Tarasov

Abstract

This paper identifies a new reason for giving preferences to the disadvantaged using a model of contests. There are two forces at work: the effort effect working against giving preferences and the selection effect working in favor of them. When education is costly and easy to obtain (as in the United States), the selection effect dominates. When education is heavily subsidized and limited in supply (as in India), preferences are welfare reducing. The model also shows that unequal treatment of identical agents can be welfare improving, providing insights into when the counterintuitive policy of rationing educational access to some subgroups is welfare improving. (JEL H52, H75, I23, I28, J15, O15)

Suggested Citation

  • Kala Krishna & Alexander Tarasov, 2016. "Affirmative Action: One Size Does Not Fit All," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 215-252, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:215-52
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.20140200
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Joao Ramos & Bernard Herskovic, 2017. "Promoting Educational Opportunities: Long-run Implications of Affirmative Action in College Admissions," 2017 Meeting Papers 1552, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Elizabeth Kaletski & Nishith Prakash, 2016. "Affirmative action policy in developing countries: Lessons learned and a way forward," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2016-52, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Akyol, Pelin & Krishna, Kala, 2017. "Preferences, selection, and value added: A structural approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 89-117.
    4. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Patricia Esteve-González & Anwesha Mukherjee, 2020. "Heterogeneity, Leveling the Playing Field, and Affirmative Action in Contests," Economics Series Working Papers 915, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Elizabeth Kaletski & Nishith Prakash, 2016. "Affirmative action policy in developing countries: Lessons learned and a way forward," WIDER Working Paper Series 052, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • 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
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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