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The impact of legacy status on undergraduate admissions at elite colleges and universities

  • Hurwitz, Michael
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    In this paper, I examine the impact of legacy status on admissions decisions at 30 highly selective colleges and universities. Unlike other quantitative studies addressing this topic, I use conditional logistic regression with fixed effects for colleges to draw conclusions about the impact of legacy status on admissions odds. By doing so, I eliminate most sources of outcome bias by controlling for applicant characteristics that are constant across colleges and college characteristics that are constant across applicants. I estimate that the odds of admission are multiplied by a factor 3.13 due to legacy status. My results also suggest that the magnitude of this legacy admissions advantage depends greatly on the nature of the familial ties between the applicant and the outcome college, and, to a lesser extent, the selectivity of the outcome college and the applicant's academic strength.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VB9-51R0790-1/2/d86710af51989f3020821b0a819ae7ae
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (June)
    Pages: 480-492

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:3:p:480-492
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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    1. Gordon C. Winston, 1999. "Subsidies, Hierarchy and Peers: The Awkward Economics of Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 13-36, Winter.
    2. Eide, Eric & Brewer, Dominic J. & Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 1998. "Does it pay to attend an elite private college? Evidence on the effects of undergraduate college quality on graduate school attendance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 371-376, October.
    3. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
    4. Thomas J. Espenshade & Chang Y. Chung & Joan L. Walling, 2004. "Admission Preferences for Minority Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities-super-," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1422-1446.
    5. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Cameron Howell & Sarah E. Turner, 2003. "Legacies in Black and White: The Racial Composition of the Legacy Pool," NBER Working Papers 9448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Terry Long, B.Bridget, 2004. "How have college decisions changed over time? An application of the conditional logistic choice model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 271-296.
    8. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 119-46, Fall.
    9. Christopher Avery & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Early Admission at Selective Colleges," Discussion Papers 08-031, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    10. Holmes, Jessica, 2009. "Prestige, charitable deductions and other determinants of alumni giving: Evidence from a highly selective liberal arts college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 18-28, February.
    11. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2009. "The impact of athletic performance on alumni giving: An analysis of microdata," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 287-294, June.
    12. Jensen, Elizabeth J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Early decision and college performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 517-525, August.
    13. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," NBER Working Papers 15446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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