Mentoring and the Dynamics of Affirmative Action

60 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017 Last revised: 11 Aug 2020

See all articles by Michele Muller-Itten

Michele Muller-Itten

University of Notre Dame

Aniko Oery

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: August 7, 2020


We analyze the long-term workforce composition when the quality of mentoring available to majority and minority juniors depends on their representation in the workforce. A workforce with ≥50% majority workers invariably converges to one where the majority is overrepresented relative to the population. To maximize welfare, persistent interventions, such as group-specific fellowships, are often needed, and the optimal workforce may include minority workers of lower innate talent than the marginal majority worker. We discuss the role of mentorship determinants, talent dispersion, the scope of short-term interventions, various policy instruments and contrast our results to the classic fairness narrative.

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 (August 7, 2020). 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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