In light of Richard's discussion last week on affirmative action, I thought I would post the abstract of a new paper by John Lott and Mark Ramseyer (that I hope to personally read soon), see here, which challenges some of the traditional hypotheses about peer effects with respect to affirmative action in higher education. The SSRN abstract sounds interesting:
In the Grutter case, Justice O'Connor suggested that universities could justifiably try to enroll a critical mass of minority students. Enroll fewer than that critical mass, reason some observers, and minority students will feel too marginalized to perform at their highest levels. In this article, we test whether minority students perform better with other students from their ethnic group in a class or school. To do so, we assemble data on the ethnicity and performance of each student in all classes at two law schools - for three years at one, and for sixteen years at the other. We find no consistent evidence that having additional students from one's ethnic group raises a student's performance. Instead, we find some evidence that having additional ethnic peers lowers performance - albeit by a very small amount (US, Canada).