Posted on September 19, 2021

The Cost of Affirmative Action

Warren Edwards, American Renaissance, December 1996

Lady Justice

Image Credit: Wikimedia

White Americans pay a high price for affirmative action. Most have no idea how high the price really is, both to the U.S. as a nation and to hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of individual whites.

Peter Brimelow, writing several years ago in Forbes,1 calculated that affirmative action cost the U.S. $350 billion, or 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product, for the year 1992. To calculate this figure, Mr. Brimelow totaled the direct cost of various government enforcement agencies, and estimated indirect costs in lost productivity, inefficiencies, extra staffing, etc. in private industry and government. If his figures are at all accurate (and to my knowledge no one has ever challenged them), the cost of affirmative action since it first began in the mid-1960’s is now well into the trillions.

This cannot but have hurt America’s international competitiveness. As far back as 1986, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone warned that America had a “low level of competitiveness” because of black and Hispanic minorities. He was reflecting the opinion of 40 percent of the Japanese people, who believe that our major economic problem is our high proportion of minorities. The Japanese, a polite race, generally keep such opinions to themselves. They aren’t good for business either, since American minorities buy a lot of Japanese products.

Prime Minister Nakasone did not point out how affirmative action only makes the American disadvantage worse: A national economy handicapped by large numbers of minorities is handicapped even further when poorly qualified candidates are hired or promoted strictly because of race.

Affirmative Action in Law School

Racial preferences begin well before Americans start looking for jobs. An excellent example of the opportunities lost to whites is described in a recent article in The Mankind Quarterly.2 The author concludes that in 1993, law schools turned away over 5,000, (perhaps as many as 5,537) white applicants to make room for protected minorities with lower Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) scores. That represents over 10% of the total admissions of approximately 51,200 for that year.

Table 1 shows that of the eight different racial/ethnic classifications, whites scored highest in average LSAT scores both for applicants and for admittees. Since the scoring range is only 120-180, the significance of the differences in scores is greater than it appears. The fourth column shows the distance from the white mean, in standard deviations (SD), of the mean scores of non-whites admitted to law school. Readers familiar with the distributions of IQ scores will note that the 1.27-SD gap between the black average and the white average is even greater than the one-SD gap in IQ scores. The gap between whites and Puerto Ricans is greater still, at 1.35-SD, and even Asians appear to be receiving some degree of preferential treatment. To repeat, these figures represent substantial gaps in the scores of students admitted to law school, not just those who took the test.

Table 1. Average Scores by Race / Ethnicity
Racial/Ethnic Group Mean of
Mean of
St. Dev. Gap
American Indian 149.1 153.7 -0.51
Black 142.4 148.4 -1.27
Chicano 148.4 153.4 -0.56
Hispanic 148.0 152.8 -0.64
Puerto Rican 140.2 147.8 -1.35
Asian/Pacific Islander 152.2 156.3 -0.14
White 154.0 157.3 0
Other 151.0 155.7 -0.23
All 151.9 156.2

What would be the effect of race-blind admissions? It is impossible to be certain, but Table 2 shows how admissions would have been affected if decisions had been based only on the LSAT, with a cut-off score of 150. The number of American Indians admitted would have fallen by 40, or 10.5 percent. Close to half of the blacks and Puerto Ricans scored lower than 150, and would not have been admitted, whereas 5,537 whites who were rejected scored 150 or higher, and would have qualified for admission.

Table 2. Admissions Based on Minimum LSAT 150
Racial/Ethnic Group Numerical
American Indian -40 -10.5%
Black -1,878 -47.6%
Chicano -127 -15.9%
Hispanic -252 -16.3%
Puerto Rican -305 -46.7%
Asian/Pacific Islander 142 4.4%
White 5,537 14.1%
Other 23 1.8%

The combined gains for whites, Asians, and “others” are greater than the combined losses for the remaining non-white groups because good LSAT scores are necessary but not sufficient for admission. In 1993, about 54,000 applicants had LSAT scores of 150 or higher but only 51,000 places were available at law schools. Some high scorers were rejected because of arrest records, poor grades, or for other reasons. The fact remains that 2,602 non-whites with scores below 150 were accepted while 5,537 whites who scored 150 or higher were rejected.

If thousands of whites are affected every year by affirmative action in the law school admissions process alone, what is the nationwide impact of such programs? As documented in such books as Illiberal Education, The Bell Curve,and Paved With Good Intentions, this pattern of racial discrimination is repeated by virtually all colleges, professional schools, and large employers. The number of whites affected every year must be well into the hundreds of thousands. The American majority is sacrificing the careers, ambitions, and future of many of its members to buy an artificial, immoral, and ultimately unsuccessful racial harmony.

1Brimelow, Peter, “When Quotas Replace Merit, Everybody Suffers,” Forbes, February 1993, pp. 80-82.

2Nix, Dennis, “The LSAT and Affirmative Action in U.S. Law Schools,” The Mankind Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 3 & 4, Spring/Summer, 1996, pp. 335-361.