How the Law Shapes our Beliefs

Awarded Scholars:
Stéphane Mechoulan, Dalhousie University
Yujung Hwang, John Hopkins University
Project Date:
Feb 2021
Award Amount:
$43,705

As of 2020, ten states had enacted legislation banning race-based affirmative action in public universities. Beyond a direct effect on college admissions, these bans may have unintended consequences. For example, they may alter citizens’ views on redistribution and racial relations, and attitudes on other topics. Economist and legal scholar Stéphane Mechoulan and economist Yujung Hwang will examine the extent to which affirmative action bans affect college and university students’ attitudes and values, especially towards race and social justice, by analyzing data collected by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). They will leverage the fact that a large fraction of students at public universities come from out of state and compare changes in the mindset of students originally living and studying in the same state when their state enacts an affirmative action ban to changes of students coming from a state that has enacted a ban but who study in a state without a ban (and vice versa). They will also compare results across college types, with a focus on selective colleges, the source of most of the controversy around affirmative action.

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