Does the River Spill Over? Estimating the Economic Returns to Attending a Racially Diverse College

21 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2010

See all articles by Peter Arcidiacono

Peter Arcidiacono

Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jacob L. Vigdor

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

This article evaluates the frequently argued but heretofore little tested hypothesis that increasing minority representation in elite colleges generates tangible benefits for majority-race students. Using data on graduates of 30 selective universities, we find only weak evidence of any relationship between collegiate racial composition and the postgraduation outcomes of white or Asian students. Moreover, the strongest evidence we uncover suggests that increasing minority representation by lowering admission standards is unlikely to produce benefits and may in fact cause harm by reducing the representation of minority students on less selective campuses. While affirmative action may still be desirable for the benefits it conveys to minority students, these results provide little support for “spillover” effects on majority-race students.

Suggested Citation

Arcidiacono, Peter and Vigdor, Jacob L., Does the River Spill Over? Estimating the Economic Returns to Attending a Racially Diverse College. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 3, pp. 537-557, July 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1627410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2009.00236.x

Peter Arcidiacono

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jacob L. Vigdor

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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