The Efficiency of Affirmative Action with Purely Historical Discrimination

33 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2002

See all articles by Abraham L. Wickelgren

Abraham L. Wickelgren

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law; University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics

Abstract

When there has been past discrimination, minorities will be more able conditional on class than non-minorities. Because ability and class both affect educational attainment, however, higher ability minorities will earn less even after discrimination ends. Thus, the discrepancy in the ability of minorities conditional on class persists after discrimination ends. This implies that minorities remain more able than non-minorities of similar educational attainment, so non-discriminatory firms will voluntarily practice affirmative action when there has been past discrimination. This suggests that the recent laws and court decisions restricting governmental affirmative action impede the government's ability to act efficiently. Moreover, when ability and qualifications are production complements, there can be positive externalities from affirmative action when it causes firms to favor more able workers over more qualified ones. This suggests that governmental incentives for even more affirmative action may be optimal.

Keywords: Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Racial Preferences

JEL Classification: D80, J15, J18, J71, J78

Suggested Citation

Wickelgren, Abraham L., The Efficiency of Affirmative Action with Purely Historical Discrimination. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=296943 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.296943

Abraham L. Wickelgren (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics

Austin, TX 78712
United States

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