The impact of Israel's class-based affirmative action policy on admission and academic outcomes

Sigal Alon*, Ofer Malamud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In the early to mid-2000s, four flagship Israeli selective universities introduced a voluntary need-blind and color-blind affirmative action policy for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program allowed departments to offer admission to academically borderline applicants who were above a certain threshold of disadvantage. We examine the effect of eligibility for affirmative action on admission and enrollment outcomes as well as on academic achievement using a regression discontinuity (RD) design. We show that students who were just barely eligible for this voluntary policy had a significantly higher probability of admission and enrollment, as compared to otherwise similar students. The affirmative action program also led to higher rates of admission to the most selective majors. Moreover, after enrollment, AA-eligible students are not falling behind academically, even at the most selective majors. Our results suggest the potential for a long-lasting impact of class-based preferences in admission on social and economic mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-139
Number of pages17
JournalEconomics of Education Review
StatePublished - Jun 2014


FundersFunder number
Spencer Foundation


    • Affirmative action
    • Israel
    • Regression discontinuity


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