NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Brent R. Hickman

Department of Economics
University of Chicago
1126 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2014Affirmative Action and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment
with Christopher Cotton, Joseph P. Price: w20397
Pre-College human capital investment occurs within a competitive environment and depends on market incentives created by Affirmative Action (AA) in college admissions. These policies affect mechanisms for rank-order allocation of college seats, and alter the relative competition between blacks and whites. We present a theory of AA in university admissions, showing how the effects of AA on human capital investment differ by student ability and demographic group. We then conduct a field experiment designed to mimic important aspects of competitive investment prior to the college market. We pay students based on relative performance on a mathematics exam in order to test the incentive effects of AA, and track study efforts on an online mathematics website. Consistent with theory, AA increases...

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