Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 19 No. 3 (Summer 2005)


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Affirmative Action and Its Mythology

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Fryer, Roland G. Jr., and Glenn C. Loury. 2005. "Affirmative Action and Its Mythology." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(3): 147-162.

DOI: 10.1257/089533005774357888


For more than three decades, critics and supporters of affirmative action have fought for the moral high ground through ballot initiatives and lawsuits, in state legislatures, and in varied courts of public opinion. The goal of this paper is to show the clarifying power of economic reasoning to dispel some myths and misconceptions in the racial affirmative action debates. We enumerate seven commonly held (but mistaken) views one often encounters in the folklore about affirmative action (affirmative action may involve goals and timelines, but definitely not quotas, e.g.). Simple economic arguments reveal these seven views to be more myth than fact.

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Fryer, Roland G. Jr. (Harvard University)
Loury, Glenn C.


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