Multiple Demographic Choice

Kevin Lewis

May 06, 2021

Untested Admissions: Examining Changes in Application Behaviors and Student Demographics Under Test-Optional Policies
Christopher Bennett
American Educational Research Journal, forthcoming


This study examines a diverse set of nearly 100 private institutions that adopted test-optional undergraduate admissions policies between 2005–2006 and 2015–2016. Using comparative interrupted time series analysis and difference-in-differences with matching, I find that test-optional policies were associated with a 3% to 4% increase in Pell Grant recipients, a 10% to 12% increase in first-time students from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds, and a 6% to 8% increase in first-time enrollment of women. Overall, I do not detect clear evidence of changes in application volume or yield rate. Subgroup analyses suggest that these patterns were generally similar for both the more selective and the less selective institutions examined. These findings provide evidence regarding the potential -- and the limitations -- of using test-optional policies to improve equity in admissions.

How Do I Compare? The Effect of Work-Unit Demographics on Reactions to Pay Inequality
Adam Cobb, JR Keller & Samir Nurmohamed
ILR Review, forthcoming


Prior research suggests that individuals react negatively when they perceive they are underpaid. Moreover, individuals frequently select pay referents who share their race and gender, suggesting that demographic similarity affects one’s knowledge of pay differences. Leveraging these insights, the authors examine whether the gender and racial composition of a work unit shapes individuals’ reactions to pay deprivation. Using field data from a large health care organization, they find that pay deprivation resulting from workers receiving less pay than their same-sex and same-race coworkers prompts a significantly stronger response than does pay deprivation arising from workers receiving less pay than their demographically dissimilar colleagues. A supplemental experiment reveals that this relationship likely results from individuals’ propensity to select same-category others as pay referents, shaping workers’ information about their colleagues’ pay. The study’s findings underscore the need to theoretically and empirically account for how demographically driven social comparison processes affect reactions to pay inequality.

How university diversity rationales inform student preferences and outcomes
Jordan Starck, Stacey Sinclair & Nicole Shelton
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 20 April 2021


It is currently commonplace for institutions of higher education to proclaim to embrace diversity and inclusion. Though there are numerous rationales available for doing so, US Supreme Court decisions have consistently favored rationales which assert that diversity provides compelling educational benefits and is thus instrumentally useful. Our research is a quantitative/experimental effort to examine how such instrumental rationales comport with the preferences of White and Black Americans, specifically contrasting them with previously dominant moral rationales that embrace diversity as a matter of intrinsic values (e.g., justice). Furthermore, we investigate the prevalence of instrumental diversity rationales in the American higher education landscape and the degree to which they correspond with educational outcomes. Across six experiments, we showed that instrumental rationales correspond to the preferences of White (but not Black) Americans, and both parents and admissions staff expect Black students to fare worse at universities that endorse them. We coded university websites and surveyed admissions staff to determine that, nevertheless, instrumental diversity rationales are more prevalent than moral ones are and that they are indeed associated with increasing White–Black graduation disparities, particularly among universities with low levels of moral rationale use. These findings indicate that the most common rationale for supporting diversity in American higher education accords with the preferences of, and better relative outcomes for, White Americans over low-status racial minorities. The rationales behind universities’ embrace of diversity have nonlegal consequences that should be considered in institutional decision making.

Gendered Prices
Renée Adams et al.
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming


We provide evidence that culture is a source of pricing bias. In a sample of 1.9 million auction transactions in 49 countries, paintings by female artists sell at an unconditional discount of 42.1%. The gender discount increases with measures of country-level gender inequality — even in artist fixed effects regressions. Our results are robust to accounting for potential gender differences in art characteristics and their liquidity. Evidence from two experiments supports the argument that women’s art may sell for less because it is made by women. However, the gender discount reduces over time as gender equality increases.

Venture Capital’s “Me Too” Moment
Sophie Calder-Wang, Paul Gompers & Patrick Sweeney
NBER Working Paper, April 2021


In this paper, we document the historically low rate of hiring of women in the venture capital sector. We find that the high-profile Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins gender discrimination trial had dramatic treatment effects. In difference-in-differences regressions, we find that the rate of hiring of female venture capitalists increased substantially after the trial and that the hiring was more pronounced in states that were more receptive to the exposure. We use the state-level mandated maternity benefits as an instrument for the receptivity to the treatment effects of the Pao Trial. We also show that the fraction of founders who are female increases after the Pao Trial, but that the increase is driven entirely by the hiring of female venture capitalists. There is no increase in the propensity of male venture capitalists to invest in female founders in the post-Pao Trial period.

CEO gender and employee relations: Evidence from labor lawsuits
Chelsea Liu
Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcoming


This study investigates the relationship between the gender of chief executive officers (CEOs) and firms’ employee relations, as proxied by labor lawsuits. Drawing on gender socialization, upper echelons, and stakeholder theories, I hypothesize that firms with female CEOs have superior employee relations. Using a hand-collected sample of 11,970 labor lawsuits filed against Standard & Poor's 1500 firms from 2001–2014, I find that firms led by female CEOs experience fewer labor lawsuits. The findings are robust to a series of additional analyses to alleviate endogeneity concerns. The evidence from this paper provides novel insights into the role of female corporate leaders in fostering employee relations.

The Impact of Paid Family Leave on Employers: Evidence from New York
Ann Bartel et al.
NBER Working Paper, April 2021


We designed and fielded a survey of New York and Pennsylvania firms to study the impacts of New York's 2018 Paid Family Leave policy on employer outcomes. We match each NY firm to a comparable PA firm and use difference-in-difference models to analyze within-match-pair changes in outcomes. We find that PFL leads to an improvement in employers' rating of their ease of handling long employee absences, concentrated in the first policy year and among firms with 50-99 employees. We also find an increase in employee leave-taking in the second policy year, driven by smaller firms.

Minority Student and Teaching Assistant Interactions in STEM
Daniel Oliver et al.
NBER Working Paper, April 2021


Graduate student teaching assistants from underrepresented groups may provide salient role models and enhanced instruction to minority students in STEM fields. We explore minority student-TA interactions in an important course in the sciences and STEM – introductory chemistry labs – at a large public university. The uncommon assignment method of students to TA instructors in these chemistry labs overcomes selection problems, and the small and active learning classroom setting with required attendance provides frequent interactions with the TA. We find evidence that underrepresented minority students are less likely to drop courses and are more likely to pass courses when assigned to minority TAs, but we do not find evidence of effects for grades and medium-term outcomes. The effects for the first-order outcomes are large with a decrease in the drop rate by 5.5 percentage points on a base of 6 percent, and an increase in the pass rate of 4.8 percentage points on a base of 93.6 percent. The findings are similar when we focus on Latinx student - Latinx TA interactions. The findings are robust to first-time vs. multiple enrollments in labs, specifications with different levels of fixed effects, limited choice of TA race, limited information of TAs, and low registration priority students. The findings have implications for debates over increasing diversity among PhD students in STEM fields because of spillovers to minority undergraduates.

Paying for Whose Performance? Teacher Incentive Pay and the Black-White Test Score Gap
Andrew Hill & Daniel Jones
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming


Teacher performance pay is often introduced with the goal of reducing gaps in test scores across groups, yet little is known about how well they achieve this aim. We ask, “Do test score-based teacher incentives impact the Black–White test score gap?” Using student–teacher matched data and a difference-in-differences approach in which the performance of a teacher’s students before and after the policy is compared, we find that performance pay increases the conditional Black-White gap. The effect is particularly evident when bonuses are large, consistent with a causal response to performance pay.

Diversity and Performance in Entrepreneurial Teams
Sophie Calder-Wang, Paul Gompers & Kevin Huang
NBER Working Paper, April 2021


We study the role of diversity and performance in the entrepreneurial teams. We exploit a unique dataset of MBA students who participated in a required course to propose and start a real micro-business that allows us to examine horizontal diversity (i.e., within the team) as well as vertical diversity (i.e., team to faculty advisor) and their effect on performance. The design of the course allows for identification of the causal implications of horizontal and vertical diversity. The course was run in multiple cohorts in otherwise identical formats except for the team formation mechanism used. In several cohorts, students were allowed to choose their teams from among students in their section (roughly 90 students). In other cohorts, students were randomly assigned to teams based upon a computer algorithm. In the cohorts that were allowed to choose, we find strong selection based upon shared attributes. Among the randomly-assigned teams, greater diversity along the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity significantly reduced performance. However, the negative effect of this diversity is alleviated in cohorts in which teams are endogenously formed. Finally, we find that teams with more female members perform substantially better when their faculty section leader was also female. Because the gender of the faculty section leader is exogenous to the gender make-up of the entrepreneurial team, the positive performance effects can be interpreted as causal. These findings suggest that diversity policies should take adequate consideration of the multiple dimensions of diversity.

Rising Stars and Underdogs: The Role Race and Parental Education Play in Predicting Mentorship
Veronica Fruiht, Jordan Boeder & Thomas Chan
Youth & Society, forthcoming


Research suggests that youth with more financial and social resources are more likely to have access to mentorship. Conversely, the rising star hypothesis posits that youth who show promise through their individual successes are more likely to be mentored. Utilizing a nationally representative sample (N = 4,882), we tested whether demographic characteristics (e.g., race, SES) or personal resources (e.g., academic/social success) are better predictors of receiving mentorship. Regression analyses suggested that demographic, contextual, and individual characteristics all significantly predicted access to mentorship, specifically by non-familial mentors. However, conditional inference tree models that explored the interaction of mentorship predictors by race showed that individual characteristics mattered less for Black and Latino/a youth. Therefore, the rising star hypothesis may hold true for White youth, but the story of mentoring is more complicated for youth of color. Findings highlight the implications of Critical Race Theory for mentoring research and practice.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.