Affirmative Action with Multidimensional Identities

29 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2022 Last revised: 2 Jul 2024

See all articles by Jean-Paul Carvalho

Jean-Paul Carvalho

Department of Economics, University of Oxford

Bary Pradelski

CNRS, Maison Francaise

Cole Williams

Durham University Business School

Date Written: December 16, 2022

Abstract

Studying the design of affirmative action policies when identities are multidimensional, we provide a formal demonstration of the importance of intersectionality. Prevailing affirmative action policies are based only on one identity dimension (e.g., race, gender, socioeconomic class). We find that any such nonintersectional policy can almost never achieve a representative outcome. In fact, nonintersectional policies often increase the underrepresentation of underrepresented groups in a manner undetected by standard measures. Examples based on race and gender reveal significant hidden inequality arising from nonintersectional policies. We show how to construct intersectional policies that achieve proportional representation.

Keywords: Affirmative action, education, inequality, underrepresentation, identity, intersectionality Carvalho, Pradelski, and Williams: Affirmative Action with Multidimensional Identities

JEL Classification: J7, I24, D02

Suggested Citation

Carvalho, Jean-Paul and Pradelski, Bary and Williams, Cole, Affirmative Action with Multidimensional Identities (December 16, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4070930 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4070930

Jean-Paul Carvalho (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, University of Oxford ( email )

10 Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Bary Pradelski

CNRS, Maison Francaise ( email )

Cole Williams

Durham University Business School ( email )

Mill Hill Lane
Durham, DH1 3LB
United Kingdom

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