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Admission Impossible? Self Interest and Affirmative Action

  • Jimmy Chan
  • Erik Eyster
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    This paper explains people’s preferences for ethnic and racial diversity in higher education through a model based on self interest Although all citizens from the majority group value diversity and their own education in the same way their preferences for the level of diversity as well as the means of achieving it depend on their competitive positions in university admissions High-income majority citizens who tend to have better academic qualifications than lower-income majority candidates prefer more diversity which they want to achieve through affirmative action by displacing marginal majority candidates for marginal minority candidates Lower-income majority candidates prefer less diversity which they want to achieve through admissions rules that partially ignore academic qualifications Data from a CBS/NYT opinion poll confirm these predictions Our model suggests why recently several American universities have replaced race-conscious admissions policies with race-blind policies that de-emphasize standardized tests with little to no effect on diversity Income inequality and competitive admissions both make banning affrmative action more likely

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    File URL: http://econ.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/pdf/papers/WP479_chan.pdf
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    Paper provided by The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number 479.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:479
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    1. Fernandez, R., 1998. "Education and Borrowing Constraints: Tests vs Prices," Working Papers 98-17, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    2. Fang,H. & Norman,P., 2001. "Government-mandated discriminatory policies," Working papers 12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    3. Gans, Joshua S. & Smart, Michael, 1996. "Majority voting with single-crossing preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 219-237, February.
    4. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-26, February.
    5. Bagnoli, M. & Bergstrom, T., 1989. "Log-Concave Probability And Its Applications," Papers 89-23, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
    6. De Fraja, Gianni, 2001. "Education Policies: Equity, Efficiency and Voting Equilibrium," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(471), pages C104-19, May.
    7. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
    8. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
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