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

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  • Hurwitz, Michael

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hurwitz, Michael, 2011. "The impact of legacy status on undergraduate admissions at elite colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 480-492, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:3:p:480-492
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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 119-146, Fall.
    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. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
    9. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    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. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. F. Aleskerov & I. Frumin & E. Kardanova, 2016. "Heterogeneity of the educational system: an introduction to the problem," Papers 1701.07322, arXiv.org.
    2. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:630-657 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2016. "Reprint of “The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families”," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 125-135.
    4. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2015. "The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 75-85.
    5. Smith, Jonathan & Hurwitz, Michael & Howell, Jessica, 2015. "Screening mechanisms and student responses in the college market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 17-28.
    6. Hurwitz, Michael & Goodman, Joshua Samuel & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2015. "The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families," Scholarly Articles 22805380, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2014. "Sibling (Non) Rivalry: The Relationship between Siblings' College Choices," Working Paper Series rwp14-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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