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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Asian-Americans hurt by affirmative action

From Gene Expression, results of a new Princeton study showing that if affirmative action were eliminated at elite universities, 80% of the previously reserved slots would go to Asian Americans. I predict little or no protest from model-minority Asians over this. The paper can be found here, but you need a subscription to Social Science Quarterly to read it.

The researchers' results seem to be in agreement with what happened at Berkeley after UC was forced to drop affirmative action - the main effect was a drop in the numbers of black and hispanic students, a big increase in the number of Asians and little effect on the white population.

Why wouldn't white and Asian-American applicants benefit equally if admission were purely by merit? It sounds suspiciously like the quota system imposed on Jews early in the 20th century. Previous research by these authors showed that being Asian was statistically equivalent to a penalty of 50 points on SAT score. (Probably due to preference awarded to "legacies", who are predominantly white.)

Disregarding race in college admissions would cause sharp drops in the number of black and Hispanic students at elite institutions, according to a new study by two researchers at Princeton University. The study, described in an article published in the June issue of Social Science Quarterly, also found that eliminating affirmative action would significantly raise the number of Asian-American students, while having little effect on white students.

If affirmative action were eliminated, the acceptance rates for black applicants would fall to 12.2 percent from 33.7 percent, while the acceptance rates for Hispanic applicants would drop to 12.9 percent from 26.8 percent, according to the study. Asian-American students would fill nearly 80 percent of the spaces not taken by black and Hispanic students, the researchers found, while the acceptance rate for white students would increase by less than 1 percent.

The researchers who conducted the study -- Thomas J. Espenshade, a professor of sociology, and Chang Y. Chung, a statistical programmer at Princeton's Office of Population Research -- looked at the race, sex, SAT scores, and legacy status, among other characteristics, of more than 124,000 applicants to elite colleges.

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