Affirmative Action Brings Long-Term Benefits, Study Says

A 20-year study of tens of thousands of student records indicates that affirmative action programs are largely responsible for the supporting the black middle class and for teaching white students the importance of integration.

Written by William Bowen and Derek Bok, two former presidents of Princeton and Harvard Universities, the study examined the grades, test scores, graduation rates, attitudes, choice of majors, and future careers of 45,000 students at 28 of the nation’s most selective schools.

Bowen and Bok found that blacks admitted to elite institutions with lower tests scores and grades than their white peers earned graduate degrees at the same rate as whites, were more likely than white peers to earn degrees in law, business, and medicine, and were more likely than whites to contribute to their communities by participating in civic organizations and activities.

Study authors stated that blacks admitted under affirmative action programs positively influence society by strengthening minority communities and encouraging integration and understanding. “They can serve as strong threads in a fabric that binds their own community together and binds those communities into the larger social fabric as well,” read the study.

Bowen and Bok’s study, The Shape of the River: Long-Terms Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions was published by Princeton University Press.


New York Times - September 9, 1998

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