IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/boc/bocoec/906.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Explicit vs. Statistical Preferential Treatment in Affirmative Action: Theory and Evidence from Chicago’s Exam Schools

Author

Listed:
  • Umut Mert Dur

    (North Carolina State University)

  • Parag A. Pathak

    (MIT)

  • Tayfun Sönmez

    (Boston College)

Abstract

Affirmative action schemes must confront the tension between admitting the highest scoring applicants and ensuring diversity. In Chicago’s affirmative action system for exam schools, applicants are divided into one of four socioeconomic tiers based on the characteristics of their neighborhood. Applicants can be admitted to a school either through a slot reserved for their tier or through a merit slot. Equity considerations motivate equal percentage reserves for each tier, but there is a large debate on the total size of these reserve slots relative to merit slots. An issue that has received much less attention is the order in which slots are processed. Since the competition for merit slots is influenced directly by the allocation to tier slots, equal size reserves are not sufficient to eliminate explicit preferential treatment. We characterize processing rules that are tier-blind. While explicit preferential treatment is ruled out under tier-blind rules, it is still possible to favor certain tiers, by ex- ploiting the distribution of scores across tiers, a phenomenon we call statistical preferential treatment. We characterize the processing order that is optimal for the most disadvantaged tier assuming that these applicants systematically have lower scores. This policy processes merit slots prior to any slots reserved for tiers. Our main result implies that Chicago has been providing an additional boost to the disadvantaged tier beyond their reserved slots. Using data from Chicago, we show that the bias due to processing order for the disadvantaged tier is comparable to that from the 2012 decrease in the size of the merit reserve.

Suggested Citation

  • Umut Mert Dur & Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2016. "Explicit vs. Statistical Preferential Treatment in Affirmative Action: Theory and Evidence from Chicago’s Exam Schools," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 906, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:906
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://fmwww.bc.edu/EC-P/wp906.pdf
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cortes, Kalena E., 2010. "Do bans on affirmative action hurt minority students? Evidence from the Texas Top 10% Plan," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1110-1124, December.
    2. Kominers, Scott Duke & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2016. "Matching with slot-specific priorities: theory," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(2), May.
    3. Ehlers, Lars & Hafalir, Isa E. & Yenmez, M. Bumin & Yildirim, Muhammed A., 2014. "School choice with controlled choice constraints: Hard bounds versus soft bounds," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 648-683.
    4. 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.
    5. Atila Abdulkadiro?lu & Yeon-Koo Che & Yosuke Yasuda, 2015. "Expanding "Choice" in School Choice," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, February.
    6. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
    7. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2013. "School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 80-106, February.
    8. Cortes, Kalena E., 2010. "Do Bans on Affirmative Action Hurt Minority Students? Evidence from the Texas Top 10% Plan," IZA Discussion Papers 5021, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Kojima, Fuhito, 2012. "School choice: Impossibilities for affirmative action," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 685-693.
    10. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sonmez, 2008. "Leveling the Playing Field: Sincere and Sophisticated Players in the Boston Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1636-1652, September.
    11. Kalena E. Cortes, 2010. "Do Bans on Affirmative Action Hurt Minority Students? Evidence from the Texas Top 10% Plan," Upjohn Working Papers 10-168, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    12. Federico Echenique & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2015. "How to Control Controlled School Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2679-2694, August.
    13. John William Hatfield & Paul R. Milgrom, 2005. "Matching with Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 913-935, September.
    14. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    15. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
    16. Umut M. Dur & Scott Duke Kominers & Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2013. "The Demise of Walk Zones in Boston: Priorities vs. Precedence in School Choice," NBER Working Papers 18981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
    18. Fuhito Kojima & Parag A. Pathak, 2009. "Incentives and Stability in Large Two-Sided Matching Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 608-627, June.
    19. , Emin & , Bumin & , Ali, 2013. "Effective affirmative action in school choice," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(2), May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Parag A. Pathak & Harald Schmidt & Adam Solomon & Edwin Song & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2020. "Do Black and Indigenous Communities Receive their Fair Share of Vaccines Under the 2018 CDC Guidelines?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 1019, Boston College Department of Economics.
    2. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Unver & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2020. "Leaving No Ethical Value Behind: Triage Protocol Design for Pandemic Rationing," NBER Working Papers 26951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Tomoeda, Kentaro, 2018. "Finding a stable matching under type-specific minimum quotas," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 81-117.
    4. Parag A. Pathak & Alex Rees-Jones & Tayfun Sönmez, 2020. "Reversing Reserves," NBER Working Papers 26963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Haydar Evren & Manshu Khanna, 2021. "Affirmative Action in Two Dimensions: A Multi-Period Apportionment Problem," Papers 2111.11963, arXiv.org.
    6. Kamada, Yuichiro & Kojima, Fuhito, 2018. "Stability and strategy-proofness for matching with constraints: a necessary and sufficient condition," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 13(2), May.
    7. Glenn Ellison & Parag A. Pathak, 2016. "The Efficiency of Race-Neutral Alternatives to Race-Based Affirmative Action: Evidence from Chicago's Exam Schools," NBER Working Papers 22589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua D. Angrist & Yusuke Narita & Parag A. Pathak, 2017. "Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1373-1432, September.
    9. Tayfun Sönmez & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2019. "Affirmative Action with Overlapping Reserves," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 990, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 15 Jan 2020.
    10. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2020. "Fair Allocation of Vaccines, Ventilators and Antiviral Treatments: Leaving No Ethical Value Behind in Health Care Rationing," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 1015, Boston College Department of Economics.
    11. Tayfun Sönmez & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2019. "Affirmative Action in India via Vertical and Horizontal Reservations," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 977, Boston College Department of Economics.
    12. Doğan, Battal & Yenmez, M. Bumin, 2019. "Unified versus divided enrollment in school choice: Improving student welfare in Chicago," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 366-373.
    13. Romero-Medina, Antonio & Triossi, Matteo, 2018. "Centralized Course Allocation," UC3M Working papers. Economics 27388, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    14. Tayfun Sönmez & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2019. "Can Economic Theory be Informative for the Judiciary? Affirmative Action in India via Vertical and Horizontal Reservations," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 1026, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 23 Jun 2021.
    15. Tayfun Sönmez & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2019. "Constitutional Implementation of Vertical and Horizontal Reservations in India: A Unified Mechanism for Civil Service Allocation and College Admissions," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 978, Boston College Department of Economics.
    16. Joshua D. Angrist & Parag A. Pathak & Román Andrés Zárate, 2019. "Choice and Consequence: Assessing Mismatch at Chicago Exam Schools," NBER Working Papers 26137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dur, Umut & Pathak, Parag A. & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2020. "Explicit vs. statistical targeting in affirmative action: Theory and evidence from Chicago's exam schools," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 187(C).
    2. Scott Duke Kominers & Alexander Teytelboym & Vincent P Crawford, 2017. "An invitation to market design," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(4), pages 541-571.
    3. Parag A. Pathak & Alex Rees-Jones & Tayfun Sönmez, 2020. "Immigration Lottery Design: Engineered and Coincidental Consequences of H-1B Reforms," NBER Working Papers 26767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Avataneo, Michelle & Turhan, Bertan, 2021. "Slot-specific priorities with capacity transfers," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 536-548.
    5. Umut M. Dur & Scott Duke Kominers & Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2013. "The Demise of Walk Zones in Boston: Priorities vs. Precedence in School Choice," NBER Working Papers 18981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2021. "How to De-reserve Reserves," ISU General Staff Papers 202103100800001123, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    7. Ehlers, Lars & Hafalir, Isa E. & Yenmez, M. Bumin & Yildirim, Muhammed A., 2014. "School choice with controlled choice constraints: Hard bounds versus soft bounds," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 648-683.
    8. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2020. "Dynamic reserves in matching markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    9. Kojima, Fuhito & Tamura, Akihisa & Yokoo, Makoto, 2018. "Designing matching mechanisms under constraints: An approach from discrete convex analysis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 803-833.
    10. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2021. "How to De-reserve Reserves," ISU General Staff Papers 202104130700001123, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    11. Jagadeesan, Ravi, 2018. "Lone wolves in infinite, discrete matching markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 275-286.
    12. Kamada, Yuichiro & Kojima, Fuhito, 2017. "Stability concepts in matching under distributional constraints," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 107-142.
    13. Orhan Aygun & Bertan Turhan, 2021. "How to De-Reserves Reserves: Admissions to Technical Colleges in India," Papers 2103.05899, arXiv.org, revised May 2022.
    14. Yuri Faenza & Swati Gupta & Xuan Zhang, 2022. "Discovering Opportunities in New York City's Discovery Program: an Analysis of Affirmative Action Mechanisms," Papers 2203.00544, arXiv.org.
    15. Federico Echenique & Antonio Miralles & Jun Zhang, 2018. "Fairness and Efficiency for Probabilistic Allocations with Endowments," Working Papers 1055, Barcelona School of Economics.
    16. Bloch, Francis & Cantala, David & Gibaja, Damián, 2020. "Matching through institutions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 204-231.
    17. Gabrielle Fack & Julien Grenet & Yinghua He, 2019. "Beyond Truth-Telling: Preference Estimation with Centralized School Choice and College Admissions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(4), pages 1486-1529, April.
    18. Hafalir, Isa E. & Kojima, Fuhito & Yenmez, M. Bumin, 2022. "Interdistrict school choice: A theory of student assignment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 201(C).
    19. Tomoeda, Kentaro, 2018. "Finding a stable matching under type-specific minimum quotas," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 81-117.
    20. Federico Echenique & Antonio Miralles & Jun Zhang, 2019. "Fairness and efficiency for probabilistic allocations with participation constraints," Papers 1908.04336, arXiv.org, revised May 2020.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    School Choice; Affirmative Action;

    JEL classification:

    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:906. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/debocus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Christopher F Baum (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/debocus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.