Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 6 No. 2 (Spring 1992)


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Who Benefits from Affirmative Action? The Case of the AEA Summer Minority Program 1986-1990

Article Citation

Leeds, Michael A. 1992. "Who Benefits from Affirmative Action? The Case of the AEA Summer Minority Program 1986-1990." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 6(2): 149-156.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.6.2.149


Since 1974, the American Economic Association Summer Minority Program (AEASMP) has provided minority undergraduates with intensive training in the core areas of economics. From 1986 to 1990, while the program was at Temple University, this consisted of advanced undergraduate instruction in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and mathematics. As a form of affirmative action aimed at increasing the number of minority economists, the AEASMP is subject to many of the controversies surrounding more standard affirmative action programs. Upon becoming managing director of the AEASMP in 1989, I explicitly attempted to alter the admissions policy in favor of students from lesser backgrounds, favoring those from poorer families and coming from less prestigious institutions. Access to the records of all students who applied to the AEASMP while it was at Temple provides a unique chance to analyze the effect of a change in the underlying philosophy of an affirmative action program. Specifically, I examine the impact of the change in philosophy on who was admitted to the AEASMP. Then, using the grades of students admitted to the summer program, I estimate the effect of the change in admissions procedures on the performance of students in the program. Finally, I test whether students in 1989-1990 performed better than students with similar characteristics in 1986-1988, to see whether there was greater "value-added" by the program in its last two years.

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Leeds, Michael A. (Temple U)

JEL Classifications

J71: Labor Discrimination
I21: Analysis of Education


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