Title

Evidence about the Potential Role for Affirmative Action in Higher Education

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

5-1-2008

Abstract

In two recent cases involving the University of Michigan, the Supreme Court exam- ined whether race should be allowed to play an explicit role in the admission decisions of schools. The primary argument in these court cases and others has been that racial diversity strengthens the quality of education offered to all students. Underlying this argument is the notion that educational benefits arise if interactions between students of different races improve preparation for life after college by, among other things, fostering mutual understanding and correcting misperceptions. Then, a fundamental condition necessary for the primary legal argument to be compelling is that the types of students who choose to enter college actually have incorrect beliefs about individ- uals from different races at the time of college entrance. In this paper we provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first direct evidence about this condition by taking advantage of unique new data that was collected specifically for this purpose.