Supply vs. Demand under an Affirmative Action Ban: Estimates from UC Law Schools

Danny Yagan

NBER Working Paper No. 20361
Issued in July 2014, Revised in December 2015
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics

Affirmative action bans can reduce black enrollment not only by reducing black admission advantages (contracting demand) but also by reducing applications (contracting supply) from black students who can still gain admission but prefer alternative schools that still practice affirmative action. When affirmative action was banned at UC law schools, Berkeley's black applications and enrollment declined by almost half even as black admission rates rose relative to whites. I ask whether black enrollment at UC law schools would have markedly declined even without the supply contraction. I find in a large sample of students applying to law schools nationwide that black supply contractions were driven mostly or entirely by students unlikely to gain admission under the ban, yielding stronger post-ban black applicant pools. Holding applicant pools constant, I estimate that the ban reduced black admission rates at both Berkeley and UCLA by half. Hence, black enrollment at these elite schools would likely have plummeted even if supply contractions had been muted---as could occur under a nationwide ban that eliminates affirmative-action-practicing alternatives.

download in pdf format
   (1194 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20361

Published: Danny Yagan, 2016. "Supply vs. demand under an affirmative action ban: Estimates from UC law schools," Journal of Public Economics, vol 137, pages 38-50. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Krishnamurthy and Edlin w20629 Affirmative Action and Stereotypes in Higher Education Admissions
Cotton, Hickman, and Price w20397 Affirmative Action and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment
Arcidiacono and Lovenheim w20962 Affirmative Action and the Quality-Fit Tradeoff
Muralidharan, Das, Holla, and Mohpal w20299 The Fiscal Cost of Weak Governance: Evidence from Teacher Absence in India
Rothstein and Yoon w14276 Affirmative Action in Law School Admissions: What Do Racial Preferences Do?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us