California’s ban on affirmative action has significantly harmed Black and Latino students by reducing their enrollment across University of California campuses, lowering their graduation rates and driving down subsequent wages, a new UC Berkeley study has found.
The study, released Friday, also found evidence that the affirmative action ban imposed by Proposition 209 did not significantly harm Asian American and white students denied admission to UC’s most selective campuses. That’s because they enrolled instead at universities of comparable high quality and earned similarly high earnings in the following years.
“This study presents several complementary pieces of evidence that suggest that the benefits provided by affirmative action to Black and Hispanic Californians prior to Prop. 209 substantially exceeded the costs faced by white and Asian Californians, and that those costs may have been quite small,” said Zachary Bleemer, the study’s author and a research associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education.
The findings come as California voters weigh whether to support Proposition 16, a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot that would repeal the 24-year ban on preferential treatment in public education and employment based on race, ethnicity or sex.
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