By Richard Sander
Affirmative action is before the Supreme Court again this week, as it rehears arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas. (I’ve discussed the legal issues in Fisher here.)
But perhaps the most important question about racial preferences is one that’s not directly raised by the case: do they even work? Do they help underrepresented minorities to achieve their goals, and foster interracial interaction and understanding on elite campuses? Or do large preferences often “mismatch” students in campuses where they will struggle and fail?
Scholars began empirically studying the mismatch issue in the 1990s, but in the past five years the field has matured. There are now dozens of careful, peer-reviewed studies that find strong evidence of mismatch. None of the authors of these studies claim that mismatch is a universal or inevitable consequence of affirmative action. But in my view, only demagogues (of which there is, unfortunately, no shortage) or people who haven’t read the relevant literature can still claim that mismatch is not a genuine problem. CONTINUE READING HERE