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Here is new research from the University of California government schooling system:

University Differences in the Graduation of Minorities in STEM Fields: Evidence from California

Peter ArcidiaconoEsteban M. AucejoV. Joseph Hotz

NBER Working Paper No. 18799
Issued in February 2013
NBER Program(s):   ED

The low number of college graduates with science degrees — particularly among under-represented minorities — is of growing concern. We examine differences across universities in graduating students in different fields. Using student-level data on the University of California system during a period in which racial preferences were in place, we show significant sorting into majors based on academic preparation, with science majors at each campus having on average stronger credentials than their non-science counterparts. Students with relatively weaker academic preparation are significantly more likely to leave the sciences and take longer to graduate at each campus. We show the vast majority of minority students would be more likely to graduate with a science degree and graduate in less time had they attended a lower ranked university. Similar results do not apply for non-minority students.


But maybe there are some positive peer-effects in general?

Estimating Benefits from University-Level Diversity
by Barbara L. Wolfe, Jason Fletcher  –  #18812 (ED LS PE)

One of the continuing areas of controversy surrounding highereducation is affirmative action.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Fisher v.  Texas, and their ruling may well influence universities’ diversity initiatives, especially if they overturn Grutter v.  Bollinger and rule that diversity is no longer a “compelling state interest.” But what lies behind a compelling
state’s interest? One issue that continues to require more information is estimating and understanding the gains for those attending colleges and universities with greater diversity.  Most existing studies are either based on evidence from one institution, which has issues of both selectivity and limited “treatments,” or focus on selective institutions, which also face issues of selection bias from college choice behaviors.  In this research we use Wave 3 of Add Health, collected in 2001-02 of those then attending college.
Add Health collected the IPEDS number of each college and matched these to the racial/ethnic composition of the student body.  We convert these data into an index of diversity and then ask whether attending a college/university with a more diverse student body influences a variety of outcomes at Wave 4 (2007-08), including years of schooling completed, earnings, family income, composition of friends, and probability of voting.  Our results provide evidence of a positive link between attending a college with greater diversity and higher earnings and family income, but not with more schooling or the probability of voting.

The challenge of course is whether it is possible to control well for selection effects.

2 Responses to “Things Which Musn’t Be Speaketh”

  1. Student says:

    I may have mentioned this before on this blog, but something about diversity goals that has frustrated me for a long time is that they seem to be treating the symptom and not the cause of the real problem at hand. As the second paper suggests, there might be some significant positive effects of affirmative action policies that diversify the student body and these policies may be worth pursuing; however, it doesn’t seem to get at the root of the problem which is why do these students from various underrepresented minority groups appear to have such a hard time achieving academic success in the same manner that other students do? It all seems like a cop-out for these institutions to do something short-term which looks like a solution to the problem (and may actually be, to a certain degree) when they should instead (or additionally) be spending more time trying to address the problem at its core. I think this would be much harder to do and it would take much longer for results to be visible, which isn’t a great incentive.

  2. Harry says:

    I think it is generally true that education of the public sort has been in decline since most of us have been around. One might be tempted to discuss how little today’s young people know nothing, but we have been going through this for a half century, after Dewey preached to the teachers of us who are still alive. Our President is ignorant, and so are all those around him, all products of easy sophism. I am not saying Dave Axelrod or Dave Plouffe are not smart, but I will assert they too are ignorant.

    But there are many many bright lights, many millions of them, all around us everywhere in this land of the free. Rizzo attracts them like flies, and the flies are a diverse bunch.

    Which brings us to “diversity” , an idea I am all for, if it means encouraging and welcoming every idea worth considering. I would add that every college and university is enriched by students who come from everywhere. Who knows whether Hillary Clinton would have gotten into Wellsley had she not been from Illinois.

    My problem is not with getting a whole United Nations on campus, but rather what you do with them once they matriculate. If you enforce speech codes, and load everything to teach conformity of thought, in professor Rizzo’s university is the banning of the plastic water bottle, that is an abomination. It also wastes the money and the time of the students.

    OK, not every course in college has the same ultimate utilitarian value; analytic chemistry is meatier than a course in St. Luke. Not everything will apply to your future life, and maybe none of it will directly. But that does not excuse teaching ignorance.

    Yet I am optimistic. That assumes the economic apocalypse coming will not consume us all and we do not get World War III this year.

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