The Economist on affirmative action
Last week, The Economist‘s cover story argued against the continued use of race-based affirmative action in the United States. The lead article is well worth your time and can be found here. The article discusses the upcoming decision in Fisher as well as the recent grant in Schuette — two cases that PLF has been leading for some time. Here’s a snippet:
Hence the shift in goals from remedying racial injustice to fostering diversity: hence the insistence of university administrators that race is just part of an “overall holistic view” of each candidate. Not everyone believes them. During oral arguments in Ms Fisher’s case Sonia Sotomayor, a justice who has acknowledged that she benefited from affirmative action in her early career, said that the UT-Austin’s programme “sounds awfully like a quota to me”.
Such diversity programmes tend to benefit black and Hispanic applicants; unfortunately, they tend to penalise both whites and Asians. Ron Unz, a software developer and magazine publisher, examined Asian-American enrolment numbers at elite colleges in a 2012 article poignantly titled “The Myth of American Meritocracy”. He found that the proportion of Asian-Americans at Harvard rose from around 5% in the early 1980s to more than 20% by 1993. After that, however, the proportion started to decrease, even as the numbers of college-age Asian-Americans rose. Mr Unz found similar patterns at other Ivy League universities. At the California Institute of Technology, by contrast, a first-rate university with race-neutral admissions, Asian-American enrolment rose.