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Affirmative Action and Efficiency in Education


  • De Fraja, Gianni


This Paper studies the optimal education policy in the presence of different groups of households, with groups differing in the distribution of the ability to benefit from education. The main result is that the high ability individuals from groups with relatively few high ability individuals should receive more education than equally able individuals from groups with a more favourable distribution of abilities. The interpretation of this conclusion is that affirmative action policies can find a rationale on efficiency grounds alone.

Suggested Citation

  • De Fraja, Gianni, 2002. "Affirmative Action and Efficiency in Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 3357, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3357

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
    2. Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983. "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-347, June.
    3. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, 2005. "Log-concave probability and its applications," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(2), pages 445-469, August.
    4. Gianni de Fraja, 2002. "The Design of Optimal Education Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 437-466.
    5. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    6. John Cawley & Karen Conneely & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1996. "Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy," NBER Working Papers 5645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, March.
    8. Paul Milgrom & Sharon Oster, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-476.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elena del Rey & María Racionero, 2008. "An efficiency argument for affirmative action in higher education," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 187(4), pages 41-48, December.
    2. Lommerud, K.E. & Vagstad, S., 2000. "Mommy Tracks and Public Policy: On Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and Gender Gaps in Promotion," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 0600, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.

    More about this item


    affirmative action; education policy; minorities;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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