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A Simple Theoretical Argument for Affrmative Action

  • Laurence Kranich
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    We consider a society which is jointly committed to the principle of equal opportunity and to increasing aggregate wealth. However, the society faces the vestiges of past discrimination in the form of a historically skewed distribution of social resources. We consider the problem of allocating the existing quantity of social inputs, and we contrast two policy instruments to redress past differences: redistributing resources in order to compensate for, or offset, the effect of the asymmetry on productive abilities, or granting preferential treatment in employment to members of the disadvantaged group (affirmative action). We show that society is generally better off with affirmative action than without it, and, indeed, that a socially optimal policy may rely solely on affirmative action.

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    Paper provided by University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 12-05.

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    Date of creation: 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:nya:albaec:12-05
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, BA 110 University at Albany State University of New York Albany, NY 12222 U.S.A.
    Phone: (518) 442-4735
    Fax: (518) 442-4736

    Order Information: Postal: Department of Economics, BA 110 University at Albany State University of New York Albany, NY 12222 U.S.A.
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    1. Kim-Sau Chung, 2000. "Role Models and Arguments for Affirmative Action," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 640-648, June.
    2. Calsamiglia, Caterina & Franke, Jörg & Rey-Biel, Pedro, 2013. "The incentive effects of affirmative action in a real-effort tournament," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 15-31.
    3. Qiang Fu, 2006. "A Theory of Affirmative Action in College Admissions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 420-428, July.
    4. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Glenn Loury, 2010. "Valuing Identity," NBER Working Papers 16568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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