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Color Blind Affirmative Action


  • Roland G. Freyer, Jr.

    () (Harvard University Society of Fellows)

  • Glenn C. Loury

    () (Institute for Economic Development, Boston University)

  • Tolga Yuret

    () (Department of Economics, Boston Unviersity)


This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding the consequences of the widespread adoption of race-neutral alternatives' to conventional racial affirmative action policies in college admissions. A simple model of applicant competition with endogenous effort is utilized to show that, in comparison to color-conscious affirmative action, these color-blind alternatives can significantly lower the efficiency of the student selection process in equilibrium. We examine data on matriculates at several selective colleges and universities to estimate the magnitudes involved. It is shown that the short-run efficiency losses of implementing color-blind affirmative action (in our sample) are four to five times as high as color-conscious affirmative action.
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Suggested Citation

  • Roland G. Freyer, Jr. & Glenn C. Loury & Tolga Yuret, 2003. "Color Blind Affirmative Action," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-131, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-131

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2003. "The Practice and Proscription of Affirmative Action in Higher Education:An Equilibrium Analysis," NBER Working Papers 9799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
    3. Jimmy Chan & Erik Eyster, 2003. "Does Banning Affirmative Action Lower College Student Quality?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 858-872, June.
    4. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1993. "Affirmative Action in Higher Education," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 99-103, May.
    5. Roland G. Fryer & Glenn C. Loury, 2003. "Categorical Redistribution in Winner-Take-All Markets," NBER Working Papers 10104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-1240, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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