Color-Blind Affirmative Action and Student Quality
This paper assesses the extent to which schools in the University of California (UC) system were able to restore racial diversity among admitted students using race-neutral polices after California’s ban on race-based affirmative action. Using administrative data from the UC from before and after the ban on race-contingent admissions policies, we present evidence that UC campuses changed the weight given to SAT scores, grades and family background characteristics after the end of affirmative action, and that these changes were able to substantially (though far from completely) offset the fall in minority admissions rate after the ban on affirmative action. In addition, we explore the possible inefficiencies generated by these changes in the admissions process, and find that while the new admissions rules affected the composition of admitted students, it is not clear that overall student quality declined. These results have important implications in light of the declining number of public universities in the United States that practice race-based affirmative action.
Keywords: Affirmative Action, Student Quality, Race
Citation: Kate Antonovics, Benjamin Backes (2013). Color-Blind Affirmative Action and Student Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. 93
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