Would the Elimination of Affirmative Action Affect Highly Qualified Minority Applicants? Evidence from California and Texas
44 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2004 Last revised: 30 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 2004
Between 1996 and 1998 California and Texas eliminated the use of affirmative action in college and university admissions. At the states' elite public universities admission rates of black and Hispanic students fell by 30-50 percent and minority representation in the entering freshman classes declined. In this paper we ask whether the elimination of affirmative action caused any change in the college application behavior of minority students in the two states. A particular concern is that highly qualified minorities - who were not directly affected by the policy change - would be dissuaded from applying to elite public schools, either because of the decline in campus diversity or because of uncertainty about their admission prospects. We use information from SAT-takers in the two states to compare the fractions of minority students who sent their test scores to selective state institutions before and after the elimination of affirmative action. We find no change in the SAT-sending behavior of highly qualified black or Hispanic students in either state.
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