Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard

73 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019

See all articles by Peter Arcidiacono

Peter Arcidiacono

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

Josh Kinsler

University of Georgia

Tyler Ransom

University of Oklahoma; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean's interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

Keywords: higher education, college admissions, legacy, admissions preference

JEL Classification: I23, I24, J15

Suggested Citation

Arcidiacono, Peter and Kinsler, Josh and Ransom, Tyler, Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12633, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3468581 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3468581

Peter Arcidiacono (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Josh Kinsler

University of Georgia ( email )

Tyler Ransom

University of Oklahoma ( email )

729 Elm Avenue
Norman, OK 73019-2103
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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