Mentoring and the Dynamics of Affirmative Action

55 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017 Last revised: 10 Dec 2019

See all articles by Michele Muller-Itten

Michele Muller-Itten

University of Notre Dame

Aniko Oery

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: November 5, 2019


We study the dynamics of workforce participation when same-group mentoring lowers education costs. Our continuous-time overlapping-generations model considers a majority and a minority group of identically distributed talent. Under sufficiently decreasing returns to mentoring, and in high-skill sectors, a patient social planner enforces an over-representation of minority workers relative to their population share. Such a composition never arises endogenously as a steady state, and thus requires persistent government intervention. As such, the surplus-maximizing policy goes beyond fairness objectives and qualitatively differs from leading models of workforce imbalance, with implications for the ``glass ceiling effect'' and the design of affirmative action.

Keywords: Affirmative Action, Continuous Time Overlapping Generations, Human Capital, Labor Participation, Employment Insecurity, Mentoring, Talent

JEL Classification: D62, E24, I2, J15, J16, J24

Suggested Citation

Muller-Itten, Michele and Oery, Aniko, Mentoring and the Dynamics of Affirmative Action (November 5, 2019). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2112, Available at SSRN: or

Michele Muller-Itten

University of Notre Dame ( email )

3060 Jenkins Nanovic Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Aniko Oery (Contact Author)

Yale University - Cowles Foundation ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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