Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Double Jeopardy? Caste, Affirmative Action and Stigma


Ashwini Deshpande
Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics
University of Delhi


11th February, 2016 (Thursday) at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

This paper presents the results of an attitude survey administered to university students in India that attempts to delineate the social-psychological mechanisms of “externalization” and “internalization” to test for stigma associated with affirmative action. Despite being admitted with significant difference in entry scores, we find no significant difference in the effort and academic attitudes between students from beneficiary groups and those who get into open seats. On a range of questions that evaluate externalization and attitudes towards affirmative action, there are clear and significant differences between caste groups that reveal the presence of stigma through the externalization mechanism, i.e. the tendency of peers to evaluate beneficiary performance prejudicially, indicating the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes towards students from target groups. This warrants the establishment of anti-discriminatory measures at the institutional level. Also, given that beneficiary groups are already stigmatized and discriminatory against, it is not evident that affirmative action, which opens up avenues of upward mobility, is doing more harm than good by further stigmatising recipients.

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