In this research article, Pamela R. Bennett and Amy Lutz offer new hypotheses about how state bans on affirmative action affect application decisions based on students’ beneficiary positions vis-à-vis affirmative action and evaluate them for black, white, Latino, and Asian American students separately. They posit that bans discourage applications to selective colleges from prospective students who benefit from affirmative action (black and Latino) and encourage applications from prospective students who do not benefit from the policy (white and Asian American). Members of nonbeneficiary groups that have strong academic credentials are more responsive to bans because they are best positioned for admission under restrictions on race-conscious admissions policies. Citing results from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002–2006, the authors show how state restrictions on race-conscious admissions have contributed to racial inequality in higher education by further drawing into elite institutions’ application pools racial groups that already account for most of their students while also raising the chances that students from those groups will be admitted.

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