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Lutz article on affirmative action and collegiate outcomes published in Jour of Law & Social Policy

Dec 31, 2018

How Affirmative Action Context Shapes Collegiate Outcomes at America’s Selective Colleges and Universities

Amy Lutz, Pamela R. Bennett & Rebecca Wang

Journal of Law and Social Policy, December 2018

Amy Lutz

Amy Lutz


During the 1990s and early 2000s, the affirmative action context in the United States changed. Affirmative action in higher education was banned in several states, and the Supreme Court ruled in Grutter (2003) that affirmative action, while constitutional, should be implemented via holistic evaluation of applicants. In this article, the authors use two datasets to examine how affirmative action context relates to academic outcomes at selective colleges and universities in the United States before and after the Grutter decision and in states with and without bans on affirmative action.

Underrepresented minority students earned higher grades in the period after the Grutter decision than before it, indicating that the holistic evaluation method required by Grutter may enhance educational outcomes for these students. In contrast, the authors find no support for the idea, proposed by critics of the policy, that banning affirmative action leads to better collegiate outcomes for Black and Latino students at selective institutions.

Center for Policy Research
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