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Who Is Eligible? Should Affirmative Action be Group‐ or Class‐Based?

Listed author(s):
  • William Darity, Jr.
  • Ashwini Deshpande
  • Thomas Weisskopf

We explore the consequences for eligibility of members of subaltern groups for affirmative action (AA), when AA policies are based on social class criteria rather than on group affiliation (race, ethnicity, or gender), by means of a general model with simplifying assumptions. The model is developed first for the case where everyone eligible for AA becomes a beneficiary, and then for the case where beneficiaries are only those eligibles who are able to meet minimum qualification requirements for the positions at issue—an ability that is (reasonably) assumed to be correlated with socioeconomic status. The model demonstrates that class-based affirmative action cannot provide as many subaltern‐group beneficiaries as group‐based affirmative action, especially when access to the desired positions hinges on performance qualifications. Data on AA‐targeted subaltern groups in rural India and in the United States are used to illustrate the conclusions of the model.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 238-268

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:70:y:2011:i:1:p:238-268
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