Prof. Mark Long and Nicole Bateman (MPA '17) have a forthcoming paper in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis titled "Long-run Changes in Underrepresentation After Affirmative Action Bans in Public Universities". Affirmative action was banned in California, Texas, Washington, and Florida in the 1990s. Following this early wave, additional states banned the practice, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. In response to concerns about underrepresented minorities’ falling college enrollment in flagship public universities, administrators and policymakers took a variety of steps to mitigate these declines.
This paper assesses the long-run changes in the racial and ethnic composition of selected universities after these bans. Long and Bateman find that the elimination of affirmative action led to persistent declines in the share of underrepresented minorities among students admitted to and enrolling in public flagship universities in these states. These results imply that alternative policies and administrative decisions were unable to fully replace race-based affirmative action. Further, they show that the antecedent conditions have only modestly improved in recent decades, suggesting that policymakers and administrators need to focus on improving these conditions.