Affirmative action: One size does not fit all

Kala Krishna, Alexander Tarasov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper identifies a new reason for giving preferences to the disadvantaged using a model of contests. There are two forces at work: the effort effect working against giving preferences and the selection effect working in favor of them. When education is costly and easy to obtain (as in the United States), the selection effect dominates. When education is heavily subsidized and limited in supply (as in India), preferences are welfare reducing. The model also shows that unequal treatment of identical agents can be welfare improving, providing insights into when the counterintuitive policy of rationing educational access to some subgroups is welfare improving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-252
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Microeconomics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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