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


  • 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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  • William Darity, Jr. & Ashwini Deshpande & Thomas Weisskopf, 2011. "Who Is Eligible? Should Affirmative Action be Group‐ or Class‐Based?," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 238-268, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:70:y:2011:i:1:p:238-268

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    6. Jeffrey P. Cohen & Cletus C. Coughlin, 2005. "An introduction to two-rate taxation of land and buildings," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 359-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. William Darity, 2013. "Confronting those affirmative action grumbles," Chapters,in: Capitalism on Trial, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. 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.

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