The Effects of Affirmative Action on Targeted and Non-Targeted Students: Evidence from Low-Income Priorities in Paris High School
Since 2008, school choice in Paris has an income-based affirmative action component granting low-income students preferential treatment in high school admissions. This policy is implemented as part of a centralized school choice procedure that assigns students to public schools based on a version of the Gale-Shapley deferred acceptance mechanism. Students' priorities are determined using a point system that takes into account students' academic performance and their district of residence. Low-income students, representing approximately 20 percent of high school entrants, are awarded a large bonus which gives them full priority at all public high schools within their district. We exploit the introduction of this bonus in 2008 as a natural experiment to investigate the effects of income-based affirmative action on the high school outcomes and college access of students. Using comprehensive administrative data on students' pathways from middle school to postsecondary education over the period 2004-2016, we implement a difference-in-differences strategy in which we compare students in Paris to those living in its close suburbs, where no affirmative action policy was implemented during the period. Comparing treatment effects across income groups allows us to separately identify the policy’s effects on targeted and non-targeted students.