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