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A Simple Theoretical Argument for Affrmative Action

Laurence Kranich ()

Discussion Papers from University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics

Abstract: We consider a society which is jointly committed to the principle of equal opportunity and to increasing aggregate wealth. However, the society faces the vestiges of past discrimination in the form of a historically skewed distribution of social resources. We consider the problem of allocating the existing quantity of social inputs, and we contrast two policy instruments to redress past differences: redistributing resources in order to compensate for, or offset, the effect of the asymmetry on productive abilities, or granting preferential treatment in employment to members of the disadvantaged group (affirmative action). We show that society is generally better off with affirmative action than without it, and, indeed, that a socially optimal policy may rely solely on affirmative action.

Date: 2012
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mic
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