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Affirmative Action and Its Mythology

Author

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  • Roland G. Fryer Jr.
  • Glenn C. Loury

Abstract

For more than three decades, critics and supporters of affirmative action have fought for the moral high ground through ballot initiatives and lawsuits, in state legislatures, and in varied courts of public opinion. The goal of this paper is to show the clarifying power of economic reasoning to dispel some myths and misconceptions in the racial affirmative action debates. We enumerate seven commonly held (but mistaken) views one often encounters in the folklore about affirmative action (affirmative action may involve goals and timelines, but definitely not quotas, e.g.). Simple economic arguments reveal these seven views to be more myth than fact.

Suggested Citation

  • Roland G. Fryer Jr. & Glenn C. Loury, 2005. "Affirmative Action and Its Mythology," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 147-162, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:19:y:2005:i:3:p:147-162
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533005774357888
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533005774357888
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2003. "The Practice and Proscription of Affirmative Action in Higher Education:An Equilibrium Analysis," NBER Working Papers 9799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 2005. "Would the Elimination of Affirmative Action Affect Highly Qualified Minority Applicants? Evidence from California and Texas," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 416-434, April.
    3. Rajiv Sethi & Rohini Somanathan, 2004. "Inequality and Segregation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1296-1321, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Roland Fryer & Glenn C. Loury & Tolga Yuret, 2003. "Color-Blind Affirmative Action," NBER Working Papers 10103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-867, June.
    7. Alan B. Krueger & Jesse Rothstein & Sarah Turner, 2004. "Race, Income and College in 25 Years: The Continuing Legacy of Segregation and Discrimination," Working Papers 9, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Education Research Section..
    8. Jimmy Chan & Erik Eyster, 2003. "Does Banning Affirmative Action Lower College Student Quality?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 858-872, June.
    9. Roland G. Fryer & Glenn C. Loury, 2003. "Categorical Redistribution in Winner-Take-All Markets," NBER Working Papers 10104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Glenn C. Loury, 1976. "A Dynamic Theory of Racial Income Differences," Discussion Papers 225, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    11. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Is Equal Opportunity Enough?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 122-126, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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