Glenn Loury, Boston University
This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding the consequences of the widespread adoption of "race-neutral alternatives'' to conventional racial affirmative action policies in college admissions. A simple model of applicant competition with endogenous effort is utilized to show that, in comparison to color-conscious affirmative action, these color-blind alternatives can significantly lower the efficiency of the student selection process in equilibrium. We examine data on matriculates at several selective colleges and universities to estimate the magnitudes involved. It is shown that the short-run efficiency losses of implementing color-blind affirmative action (in our sample) are four to five times as high as with color-conscious affirmative action.