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What Promises Are Worth: The Impact of Affirmative Action Goals


  • Jonathan S. Leonard


Affirmative action goals and timetables have been criticized by some as being ineffective and by others as being a system of rigid quotas. In this paper I present estimates of the impact of detailed regulatory pressure on goals and on subsequent demographics. While the goals are inflated and are not being fulfilled with the rigidity one might expect of quotas, the establishments that promise to employ more minorities and females do actually employ more in subsequent years. While the detailed enforcement tools are of doubtful utility, the system of affirmative action goals does appear to have promoted increases in minority and female employment at reviewed establishments.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan S. Leonard, 1985. "What Promises Are Worth: The Impact of Affirmative Action Goals," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(1), pages 3-20.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:20:y:1985:i:1:p:3-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard Butler & James J. Heckman, 1977. "The Government's Impact on the Labor Market Status of Black Americans: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 0183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1984. "The Impact of Affirmative Action on Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 439-463, October.
    3. Orley Ashenfelter & James J. Heckman, 1974. "Measuring the Effect of an Anti-Discrimination Program," NBER Working Papers 0050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. James J. Heckman & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1976. "Does the Contract Compliance Program Work? An Analysis of Chicago Data," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(4), pages 544-564, July.
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    1. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:152-90 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ferreira, José Luis, 1996. "Solidaridad social y responsabilidad individual. Segunda parte: La economía de la discriminación y el II Plan de Igualdad de Oportunidades para las Mujeres," DE - Documentos de Trabajo. Economía. DE 3376, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    3. Jere Behrman & Hans-Peter Kohler & Vibeke Jensen & Dorthe Pedersen & Inge Petersen & Paul Bingley & Kaare Christensen, 2011. "Does More Schooling Reduce Hospitalization and Delay Mortality? New Evidence Based on Danish Twins," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1347-1375, November.

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