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Admission Impossible? Self Interest and Affirmative Action

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  • Jimmy Chan
  • Erik Eyster

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Jimmy Chan & Erik Eyster, 2002. "Admission Impossible? Self Interest and Affirmative Action," Economics Working Paper Archive 479, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:479
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raquel Fernandez, 1998. "Education and Borrowing Constraints: Tests vs. Prices," NBER Working Papers 6588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    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. Shelly J. Lundberg, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws Under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-326.
    5. Fang,H. & Norman,P., 2001. "Government-mandated discriminatory policies," Working papers 12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    6. De Fraja, Gianni, 2001. "Education Policies: Equity, Efficiency and Voting Equilibrium," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(471), pages 104-119, May.
    7. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
    8. 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.
    9. repec:hhs:iuiwop:562 is not listed on IDEAS
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