Admitting Students to Selective Education Programs: Merit, Profiling, and Affirmative Action

56 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2015

See all articles by Dario Cestau

Dario Cestau

IE Business School, IE University

Dennis Epple

Carnegie Mellon University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Holger Sieg

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

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

For decades, colleges and universities have struggled to increase participation of minority and disadvantaged students. Urban school districts confront a parallel challenge; minority and disadvantaged students are underrepresented in selective programs that use merit-based admission. In their referral and admission policies to such selective programs, school districts may potentially set different admission thresholds based on income and race (affirmative action), and they may potentially take account of differences in achievement relative to ability across race and income groups (profiling). We develop an econometric model that provides a unified treatment of affirmative action and profiling. Implementing the model for an urban district, we find profiling by race and income, and affirmative action for low-income students. Counterfactual analysis reveals that these policies achieve more than 80% of African American enrollment that could be attained by race-based affirmative action.

Suggested Citation

Cestau, Dario and Epple, Dennis and Sieg, Holger, Admitting Students to Selective Education Programs: Merit, Profiling, and Affirmative Action (June 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21232. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2615638

Dario Cestau (Contact Author)

IE Business School, IE University ( email )

Calle Maria de Molina 12, Bajo
Madrid, Madrid 28006
Spain

Dennis Epple

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Tepper School of Business
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-1536 (Phone)
412-268-7357 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Holger Sieg

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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