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The Practice and Proscription of Affirmative Action in Higher Education:An Equilibrium Analysis

  • Dennis Epple
  • Richard Romano
  • Holger Sieg

The paper examines the practice of affirmative action and consequences of its proscription on the admission and tuition policies of institutions of higher education in a general equilibrium. Colleges are differentiated ex ante by endowments and compete for students that differ by race, household income, and academic qualification. Colleges maximize a quality index that is increasing in mean academic score of students, educational resources per student, an income-diversity measure, and a racial-diversity measure. The pool of potential nonwhite students has distribution of income and academic score with lower means than that of whites. In benchmark equilibrium, colleges may condition admission and tuition on race. In a computational model calibrated using estimates from related research, equilibrium has colleges offer tuition discounts and admission preference to nonwhites to promote racial diversity. Equilibrium entails a quality hierarchy of colleges, so the model predicts practices and characteristics of colleges along the hierarchy. Proscription of affirmative action requires that admission and tuition policies are race blind. Colleges then use the informational content about race in income and academic score in reformulating their optimal policies. Admission and tuition policies are substantially modified in equilibrium of the computational model, and both races are significantly affected. Representation of nonwhites falls significantly in all colleges. The drop is particularly pronounced in the top third of the quality hierarchy of colleges.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9799.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9799.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9799
Note: CH ED
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  1. Donald Robertson & James Symons, 1996. "Do peer Groups Matter? Peer Groups versus Schooling Effects on Academic Attainment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0311, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Weili Ding & Steven F. Lehrer, 2007. "Do Peers Affect Student Achievement in China's Secondary Schools?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 300-312, May.
  3. Rothschild, Michael & White, Lawrence J, 1995. "The Analytics of the Pricing of Higher Education and Other Services in Which the Customers Are Inputs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 573-86, June.
  4. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2002. "On the Demographic Composition of Colleges and Universities in Market Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 310-314, May.
  6. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  7. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  8. David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 9-23, February.
  9. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano, 2008. "Educational Vouchers And Cream Skimming," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1395-1435, November.
  10. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
  11. Roland Fryer & Glenn C. Loury & Tolga Yuret, 2003. "Color-Blind Affirmative Action," NBER Working Papers 10103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter & Sauvageau, Yvon, 1978. "Peer group effects and educational production functions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 97-106, August.
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