NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What Promises Are Worth: The Impact of Affirmative Action Goals

Jonathan S. Leonard

NBER Working Paper No. 1346
Issued in May 1984
NBER Program(s):   LS

Affirmative action goals and timetables for the employment of minorities and females have been criticized by some as being ineffective,and by others as being a system of rigid quotas. Using new data from OFCCP administrative records, this paper estimates the impact of detailed regulatory pressure on goals and on subsequent employment demographics. It also tests for the information content of the goals.While the goals are inflated and are not being fulfilled with the rigidity one might expect of quotas, the establishments that promise to employ more minorities and females do actually employ more in subsequent years. While the detailed enforcement tools of the compliance review process are of doubtful utility, the system of affirmative action goals does appear to have prompted increases in minority and female employment at reviewed establishments.

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Published: Leonard, Jonathan S. "What Promises Are Worth: The Impact of Affirmative Action Goals." Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 20, No. 1, (Winter 1985) pp. 3-20.

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