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Does Affirmative Action Reduce Productivity? A Case Study of the Indian Railways

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  • Deshpande, Ashwini
  • Weisskopf, Thomas E.

Abstract

Our objective is to shed empirical light on a claim often made by critics of affirmative action policies: that increasing the representation of members of marginalized communities in jobs comes at the cost of reduced productive efficiency. We undertake a systematic empirical analysis of productivity in the Indian Railways—the world’s largest employer subject to affirmative action—in order to assess whether higher proportions of affirmative action beneficiaries in employment have reduced efficiency in the railway system. We find no evidence for such an effect; indeed, some of our results suggest that the opposite is true.

Suggested Citation

  • Deshpande, Ashwini & Weisskopf, Thomas E., 2014. "Does Affirmative Action Reduce Productivity? A Case Study of the Indian Railways," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 169-180.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:64:y:2014:i:c:p:169-180
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2014.05.024
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    3. Bertrand, Marianne & Hanna, Rema & Mullainathan, Sendhil, 2010. "Affirmative action in education: Evidence from engineering college admissions in India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 16-29, February.
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    5. Siddique, Zahra, 2008. "Caste Based Discrimination: Evidence and Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 3737, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Deshpande, Ashwani, 2011. "The Grammar of Caste: Economic Discrimination in Contemporary India," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198072034.
    7. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Lupin Rahman & Vijayendra Rao, 2004. "The Politics of Public Good Provision: Evidence from Indian Local Governments," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 416-426, 04/05.
    8. Linda Barrington & Kenneth R. Troske, 2001. "Workforce Diversity and Productivity: An Analysis of Employer-Employee Match Data," Economics Program Working Papers 01-02, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
    9. Verónica C. Frisancho Robles & Kala Krishna, 2012. "Affirmative Action in Higher Education in India: Targeting, Catch Up, and Mismatch," NBER Working Papers 17727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Christensen, Laurits R & Jorgenson, Dale W, 1969. "The Measurement of U.S. Real Capital Input, 1929-1967," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 15(4), pages 293-320, December.
    11. James Levinsohn & Amil Petrin, 2003. "Estimating Production Functions Using Inputs to Control for Unobservables," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 317-341.
    12. Scott E. Page, 2007. "Prologue to The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies," Introductory Chapters,in: The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies Princeton University Press.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ashwini Deshpande, 2016. "Double jeopardy? Caste, affirmative action, and stigma," WIDER Working Paper Series 071, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Singhari, Smrutirekha & Madheswaran, S., 2016. "Social exclusion and caste discrimination in public and private sectors in India: A decomposition analysis," Working Papers 361, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    3. repec:spr:ijlaec:v:59:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s41027-017-0053-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Arnim Langer & Frances Stewart & Maarten Schroyens, 2016. "Horizontal inequalities and affirmative action: An analysis of attitudes towards redistribution across groups in Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 119, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "The Changing Contours of Intergroup Disparities and the Role of Preferential Policies in a Globalizing World- Evidence from India," Working papers 267, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    6. Ashwini Deshpande & Thomas E. Weisskopf, 2016. "Affirmative Action and Productivity in the Indian Railways," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 43(2), pages 245-251, June.
    7. Basu,Kaushik, 2015. "Discrimination as a coordination device : markets and the emergence of identity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7490, The World Bank.

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