Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Education

Friday, October 2, 2015
Peter Arcidiacono
Michael Lovenheim
Maria Zhu


The use of race in college admissions is one of the most contentious issues in U.S. higher education. We survey the literature on the impact of racial preferences in college admissions on both minority and majority students. With regard to minority students, particular attention is paid to the scope of preferences as well as how preferences affect graduation, choice of major, and labor market earnings. We also examine how schools respond to bans on racial preferences and the effects these responses have on racial diversity at elite schools. With regard to majority students, we examine the evidence on the returns to attending a more racially diverse school, as well as how racial preferences affect friendship formation. Finally, we supplement studies of affirmative action in the United States with evidence from India, which provides a much more straightforward environment in which to study affirmative action owing to the use of quotas and admissions rules based solely on exam scores.


Peter Arcidiacono, Michael Lovenheim, and Maria Zhu, Annual Review of Economics, August 2015, 487-518, Vol. 7

Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Education