Would the Elimination of Affirmative Action Affect Highly Qualified Minority Applicants? Evidence from California and Texas
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 subsequently fell by 30–50% and minority representation in the entering freshman classes declined. This study investigates whether the elimination of affirmative action changed minority students’ college application behavior. 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 reduced campus diversity or because of uncertainty about their admission prospects. The authors 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. They find no change in the SAT-sending behavior of highly qualified black or Hispanic students.