Choice with Affirmative Action

33 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2020 Last revised: 18 Oct 2021

See all articles by Battal Doğan

Battal Doğan

School of Economics, University of Bristol

Kemal Yildiz

Bilkent University; Princeton University

Date Written: October 17, 2021


A choice rule with affirmative action decides on the recipients of a limited number of identical objects by reconciling two objectives: respecting a priority ordering over the applicants and supporting a minority group. We extend the standard formulation of a choice problem by incorporating a type function and a priority ordering, and introduce monotonicity axioms on how a choice rule should respond to variations in these parameters. We show that monotonic and substitutable affirmative action rules are the ones that admit a bounded reserve representation. As a prominent class of choice rules that satisfy the monotonicity axioms, we characterize lexicographic affirmative action rules that are prevalent both in the literature and in practice. Our axiomatic approach provides a novel way to think about reserve systems and uncovers choice rules that go beyond lexicographic affirmative action rules.

Keywords: affirmative action, bounded reserve representation, lexicographic choice.

JEL Classification: C78, D47, D71, D78

Suggested Citation

Doğan, Battal and Yildiz, Kemal, Choice with Affirmative Action (October 17, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Battal Doğan (Contact Author)

School of Economics, University of Bristol ( email )

United Kingdom

Kemal Yildiz

Bilkent University ( email )

Bilkent University, Dept. of Economics
Ankara, 06800

Princeton University ( email )

United States

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