.ISSN (e) 1759-7331
(print) 1759-7323
Quantitative Economics
An open-access journal in quantitative economics
Journal of the
Econometric Society
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Quantitative Economics, Volume 2, Issue 3 (November 2011)

Does affirmative action lead to mismatch? A new test and evidence

Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban M. Aucejo, Hanming Fang, Kenneth I. Spenner


We argue that once we take into account the students’ rational enrollment deci-
sions, mismatch in the sense that the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action
admission policies are made worse off ex ante can only occur if selective universi-
ties possess private information. Ex ante mismatch occurs when revelation of this
information would have changed the student’s choice of school. This necessary
condition for mismatch provides the basis for a new test. The test is implemented
using data from the Campus Life and Learning Project at Duke University. Evi-
dence shows that Duke does possess private information that is a statistically sig-
nificant predictor of students’ post-enrollment academic performance. Further,
this private information is shown to affect the subjective measures of students’
satisfaction as well as their persistence in more difficult majors. We also propose
strategies to evaluate more conclusively whether the presence of Duke private in-
formation has generated mismatch.
Keywords. Mismatch, private information, affirmative action.
JEL classification. D8, I28, J15.

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