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Representation versus assimilation: How do preferences in college admissions affect social interactions?

  • Arcidiacono, Peter
  • Khan, Shakeeb
  • Vigdor, Jacob L.

Given the existence of non-selective universities, the question of whether to employ racial preferences in college admissions reduces to one of optimal allocation of a finite resource: students who are members of under-represented racial or ethnic groups. In this paper, we assess recent legal arguments that racial preferences at selective colleges promote meaningful on-campus interracial interaction. As such, we model such interaction as a function of minority representation and, in some cases, perceived social similarity between students of different races. We estimate a structural model to capture these effects and use the results to trace out the net effects of racial preferences on population rates of interracial contact. The results suggest that the interaction-maximizing degree of racial preference, while positive, is significantly weaker than that observed in practice.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V76-518TDMM-1/2/d4b4c89b0efeb01fe904eb3212a3e93d
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
Pages: 1-15

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:1-2:p:1-15
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Peter Arcidiacono, 2005. "Affirmative Action in Higher Education: How Do Admission and Financial Aid Rules Affect Future Earnings?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1477-1524, 09.
  2. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2008. "Diversity and Affirmative Action in Higher Education," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(4), pages 475-501, 08.
  3. David Marmaros & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "How Do Friendships Form?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 79-119, 02.
  4. Mayer, Adalbert & Puller, Steven L., 2008. "The old boy (and girl) network: Social network formation on university campuses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 329-347, February.
  5. Peter Arcidiacono & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2010. "Does The River Spill Over? Estimating The Economic Returns To Attending A Racially Diverse College," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 537-557, 07.
  6. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Paul Torelli, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 11334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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