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Research Assistants

Competition and Discrimination in Elite Higher Education

This project examines how competition between elite universities in the early and middle 20th century shaped discrimination against racial/ethnic and religious minorities. Historical accounts from the period emphasize that elite universities discriminated against minorities in the application process, for example by implementing binding quotas on the share of Jewish students. My first goal is to understand the extent to which realized discrimination was demand-driven. If the elite private school students who made up elite universities' traditional constituency during this period prefer to attend colleges with higher minority shares, universities may compete for their enrollment by suppressing minority shares. The relative importance of the demand channel as a driver of discrimination has important implications for what effective anti-discrimination policy should look like. My second goal is to understand the economic implications of these quotas using data on students' academic and career outcomes.

Requisite Skills and Qualifications

This project involves an extensive data digitization process, which the Tobin RA will help with. We will be digitizing historical records of enrollment, academic, and career outcomes for college students at elite universities in the Northeast US between roughly 1900 and 1970. I can integrate the RA into an existing process, so training is provided here.

Key qualifications are:

  • Some experience with Python and either R or Stata
  • A real interest in the economics of education and/or economic history---this project is hard to do well if you're not excited about the data and the process