Meritocracy and Representation
Journal of Economic Literature
no. 3, September 2023
A standard conception of meritocracy, reflected in state referenda and the many legal filings against university admissions policies, is that selection rules should be blind to group identity and monotonic in measures of past accomplishment. We present theoretical arguments and survey empirical evidence challenging this view. Past accomplishment is often a garbled signal of multiple traits, some of which matter more for future performance than others. In such cases, group identity can be informative as a predictor of success and the increased representation of resource-disadvantaged groups could improve organizational performance. This perspective helps explain some recent empirical findings regarding the efficiency effects of group-contingent selection and moves us toward a conception of meritocracy more closely tied to organizational mission.
Sethi, Rajiv, and Rohini Somanathan.
"Meritocracy and Representation."
Journal of Economic Literature,
Higher Education; Research Institutions
Returns to Education
Education: Government Policy
Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination