Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective

By Thomas E. Weisskopf | Go to book overview

15

Review of the findings on the consequences of positive discrimination policies in university admissions

In the preceding six chapters I have reviewed much of the evidence available in the US and India that has a bearing on the consequences of positive discrimination (PD) policies in admissions to higher educational institutions. In this chapter I summarize this evidence, organizing it so as to shed light on the extent to which the various claims of PD benefits and costs have actually been validated in the experience of the US and India with PD policies. Then I draw on the summarized evidence, as well as a priori reasoning, to draw conclusions about the consequences of PD policies in admissions to higher educational institutions.


Summary of the evidence

I begin with estimates of the overall number and the average academic qualifications of PD beneficiaries in each country. Then I go on to summarize the evidence that has a bearing on each of the claims of benefits and costs made by proponents and critics of PD policies in higher educational admissions, starting with claims for which the evidence is relatively abundant and then moving on to claims for which evidence is increasingly difficult to obtain. 1 At the end of each relevant paragraph-or section thereof-in which evidence is summarized, I note (in parentheses) in which chapters and pages of this book a detailed discussion of the evidence can be found.


Estimates of the total number of PD beneficiaries

In the US, the most important effect of affirmative action (AA) policies in university admissions at the undergraduate/college level is to redistribute under-represented ethnic group (UREG) students upward and non-UREG students downward across the selectivity spectrum of universities, thereby increasing UREG enrollments in the more selective and higher-quality colleges. At the graduate and professional level, AA policies not only redistribute students in this way; they also add significantly to the total number of UREG students enrolling in degree programs. In the late 1990s, UREG members-i.e. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native

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