Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics

Delhi School of Economics


Inferring Trade-Offs in University Admissions:
Evidence from Cambridge
(joint with Julia Shvets)


Debopam Bhattacharya
(University of Cambridge)

 (Thursday, 20 July, 3:15 PM IST)
Venue: Amex Room 


 How do elite universities balance diversity and academic performance during admissions, and do they face a trade-off in doing so? We develop a theory-based empirical framework to identify and quantify this potential trade-off ex-post, using post-entry outcomes. We apply our framework to admission and exam-performance data from Cambridge University. Comparing directly admitted students and second-round admits from different demographic groups yields bounds on the magnitude of trade-off, which (A) hold irrespective of whether we observe all applicant characteristics, and (B) require no information on rejected applicants. We find robust evidence of a trade-off between gender balance and performance in math-intensive subjects. It implies a weight of at least 20% on gender-diversity and at most 80% on academics in the university objective. Such trade-offs are not identified for state vis-a-vis privately-funded school students, nor for gender in equally competitive non-mathematical disciplines.

All are cordially invited.

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