Affirmative Action at Public Universities Is Surprisingly Ineffective

Over at 538, Hayley Munguia has an article titled “Here’s What Happens When You Ban Affirmative Action In College Admissions.” Her charts surprised me:

What surprised me was how little effect affirmative action policies seem to have. Both blacks and Hispanics are substantially underrepresented at public research universities, but their underrepresentation is nearly the same in states with and without affirmative action bans. There’s a small effect from the bans, but that’s all.

If this data is correct, it’s a little puzzling that either side feels as strongly as they do about affirmative action at public universities. If race-based policies have this little effect, maybe it really would be a good idea to try something different.