Racial segregation patterns in selective universities


This paper examines sorting into interracial friendships at selective universities. We show significant friendship segregation, particularly for blacks. Indeed, blacks' friendships are no more diverse in college than in high school, despite the fact that the colleges that blacks attend have substantially smaller black populations.We demonstrate that the segregation patterns occur in part because affirmative action results in large differences in the academic backgrounds of students of different races, with students preferring to form friendships with those of similar academic backgrounds. Within a school, stronger academic backgrounds make whites' friendships with blacks less likely and friendships with Asians more likely. These results suggest that affirmative action admission policies at selective universities, which drive a wedge between the academic characteristics of different racial groups, may result in increased within-school segregation. © 2013 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Journal of Law and Economics