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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

UC and Affirmative Action

The U.S. Supreme Court will be making decisions on affirmative action in higher ed admissions soon.  UC – despite Prop 209 which bans such affirmative action – seems to be caught up in the case indirectly due to research papers and court submissions dealing with the impact of Prop 209.  Inside Higher Ed today points to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper on the impact of 209 on graduation rates of minorities from UC.  It has been contended that affirmative action programs create a kind of mismatch between students and institutions.  The working paper finds that 209, by eliminating mismatch, improved graduation rates at UC.  It might be noted that one of the four authors (Hotz) was formerly at UCLA.  Abstract of the paper:

Affirmative Action and University Fit: Evidence from Proposition 209
Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban Aucejo, Patrick Coate, V. Joseph Hotz
NBER Working Paper No. 18523, November 2012

Proposition 209 banned using racial preferences in admissions at California's public colleges. We analyze unique data for all applicants and enrollees within the University of California (UC) system before and after Prop 209. After Prop 209, graduation rates of minorities increased by 4.4%. We characterize conditions required for better matching of students to campuses to account for this increase. We find that Prop 209 did improve matching and this improvement was important for the graduation gains experienced by less-prepared students. At the same time, better matching only explains about 20% of the overall graduation rate increase. Changes after Prop 209 in the selectivity of enrolled students explain 34-50% of the increase. Finally, it appears UC campuses responded to Prop 209 by doing more to help retain and graduate its students, which explains between 30-46% of the post-Prop 209 improvement in the graduation rate of minorities.

The actual paper is at http://www.nber.org/papers/w18523.pdf
The Inside Higher Ed article is at http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/11/13/analysis-u-california-and-without-affirmative-action

An earlier post on this blog noted the study on mismatch by Richard Sander of the Law School:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2012/10/ucla-admissions-controversy.html

See also our post on the brief submitted to the Supreme Court by UC:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2012/08/uc-submits-legal-brief-on-affirmative.html

Prior to the enactment of Prop 209, the Regents banned affirmative action in admissions and contracting at UC.  Prop 209 then made the Regents' ban superfluous and they later repealed it.  But since Prop 209 remains in force, the repeal had no effect.  You can see the Regents during the enactment of the ban at:


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