Affirmative Action and Other Group Tradeoff Policies: Identifiability of Those Adversely Affected
35 Pages Posted: 7 May 2014
Date Written: April 8, 2014
When social resources are limited, improving the lot of the underprivileged comes at the expense of others. Thus, policies such as Affirmative Action (AA) — designed to increase the representation of minority people in higher education or employment — implicitly entail tradeoffs between groups. We propose that, while aversion to person- or group-tradeoffs of this sort is widespread, the identifiability of those who stand to lose is a moderating factor. In five experiments, we compared support for several hypothetical AA procedures that are equivalent in terms of the overall harm and benefit, but differ with respect to the identifiability of those who stand to lose from its implementation. Results support the claim that the identifiability of those adversely affected reduces support for AA policies and for similar procedures that are unrelated to civil rights issues. Possible determinants and legal implications of this effect are discussed.
Keywords: affirmative action, identifiability, experimental legal studies, behavioral law and economics
JEL Classification: J7, K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation