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Affirmative Action in India via Vertical and Horizontal Reservations

Author

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  • Tayfun Sönmez

    (Boston College)

  • M. Bumin Yenmez

    (Boston College)

Abstract

Built into the country’s constitution, one of the world’s most comprehensive affirmative action programs exists in India. Government jobs and seats at publicly funded educational institutions are allocated through a Supreme Court-mandated procedure that integrates a meritocracy-based system with a reservation system that provides a level playing field for disadvantaged groups through two types of special provisions. The higher-level provisions, known as vertical reservations, are exclusively intended for backward classes that faced historical discrimination, and implemented on a “set aside” basis. The lower-level provisions, known as horizontal reservations, are intended for other disadvantaged groups (such as women or disabled citizens), and they are implemented on a “minimum guarantee” basis. We show that, the Supreme Court-mandated procedure suffers from two major deficiencies: Not only a candidate can lose a position to a less meritorious candidate from a higher-privilege group, completely against the philosophy of affirmative action, but she can also lose a position simply because of disclosing her disadvantaged status. This loophole under the Supreme Court-mandated procedure causes widespread confusion in India, resulting in countless lawsuits, conflicting judgements on these law- suits, and even defiance in some of its states. A recent amendment in the Constitution of India has a potential to amplify the adverse effects of these shortcomings, especially to the detriment of female candidates. We propose an alternative procedure that resolves both deficiencies with the smallest possible deviation from the Supreme Court-mandated procedure.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:977
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Kominers, Scott Duke & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2016. "Matching with slot-specific priorities: theory," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(2), May.
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    13. Tayfun Sönmez, 2013. "Bidding for Army Career Specialties: Improving the ROTC Branching Mechanism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(1), pages 186-219.
    14. Eric Budish, 2011. "The Combinatorial Assignment Problem: Approximate Competitive Equilibrium from Equal Incomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(6), pages 1061-1103.
    15. 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.
    16. Hafalir, Isa Emin & Yenmez, M. Bumin & Yildirim, Muhammed Ali, 2013. "Effective affirmative action in school choice," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(2), May.
    17. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2020. "Dynamic reserves in matching markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
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    Cited by:

    1. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2020. "Dynamic reserves in matching markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    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. 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. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2021. "How to De-reserve Reserves," ISU General Staff Papers 202104130700001123, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Abizada, Azar & Bó, Inácio, 2021. "Hiring from a pool of workers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 576-591.
    6. Biró, Péter & Gudmundsson, Jens, 2021. "Complexity of finding Pareto-efficient allocations of highest welfare," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 291(2), pages 614-628.
    7. Parag A. Pathak & Alex Rees-Jones & Tayfun Sönmez, 2020. "Reversing Reserves," NBER Working Papers 26963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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).
    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. Aygün, Orhan & Turhan, Bertan, 2019. "Matching with Generalized Lexicographic Choice Rules," ISU General Staff Papers 20191101070000, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    12. Ágoston, Kolos Csaba & Biró, Péter & Kováts, Endre & Jankó, Zsuzsanna, 2022. "College admissions with ties and common quotas: Integer programming approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 299(2), pages 722-734.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Orhan Aygun & Bertan Turhan, 2020. "Designing Direct Matching Mechanism for India with Comprehensive Affirmative Action," Papers 2004.13264, arXiv.org, revised Dec 2021.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Market design; matching; affirmative action;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design

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