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  • Writer's pictureDavid Deming

Affirmative action for rich kids: It's more than just legacy admissions

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'A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ended affirmative action in college admissions. The ruling held that the race-conscious admission programs of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It's now deemed unconstitutional for colleges — both public and private — to weigh race as a factor in who they should admit.

Affirmative action for minority kids may now be dead. But a blockbuster new study, released today, finds that, effectively, affirmative action for rich kids is alive and well. They may or may not always do it on purpose, but a group of the most prestigious private colleges in America are handing a massive admissions advantage to rich kids over less affluent kids — even when they have the same SAT scores and academic qualifications.

The study is by Raj Chetty and David J. Deming, of Harvard University, and John N. Friedman, of Brown University. We at Planet Money have already dubbed Raj Chetty the Beyoncé of Economics because of his long list of popular hits in empirical economics. And, let me tell you, this is another ***Flawless classic in his catalog. I mean, not only is the study eye-opening, but Chetty is also kind of sticking his neck out here, by shining a spotlight on the admission practices of his employer, Harvard. But they can't fire Beyoncé! (He has tenure).'


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