The effects of proposition 209 on college enrollment and graduation rates in California

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 15.05.2012, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

V. Joseph Hotz (Duke University)


Proposition 209 banned the use of racial preferences in admissions at public colleges in California. Although enrollments for minorities fell post-Prop 209, two-thirds of the drop came from the CSU system which consists primarily of non-selective institutions. More notably, we find that minority graduation rates increased after Prop 209 was implemented, a finding consistent with the argument that affirmative action bans result in better matching of students to colleges. To address the robustness of the positive effects on graduation and the role of matching, we analyze unique data for all applicants and enrollees within the University of California (UC) system before and after Prop 209. The positive Prop 209 effects on minority graduation rates persist, even after controlling for observed and unobserved qualifications of UC enrollees. We present evidence that certain institutions are better at graduating more-prepared students while other institutions are better at graduating lessprepared students and that these matching effects are particularly important for the bottom tail of the qualification distribution. In terms of graduation rates, we find that Prop 209 led to a more efficient sorting of minority students.

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