What happens when colleges drop affirmative action?

In states with ban, black students aptly represented at just two schools—one an HBCU

When states ban affirmative action in college admissions, minority representation on campus drops, Hayley Munguia reports for FiveThirtyEight.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Education, Munguia compared public college enrollment rates of demographic groups in the 42 states permitting affirmative action in higher education with the eight that ban it.

Three takeaways from last week's Supreme Court hearing on affirmative action

Overall, black students are underrepresented by at least 20% at 79% of the nation's public research universities.  Hispanic students are underrepresented by at least 20% at 82% of the institutions.

The racial gap is larger, however, in states without affirmative action. Currently, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Michigan, Florida, Washington, and California all prohibit affirmative action in admissions. And in most of those states, the gap grew once they enacted the ban.

Among states with the ban, just two research universities have the same rate of black students on campus as in their states' college age-group population. One of those universities is an HBCU.

For Hispanic students, just one school meets the same rate.

Compared with nonminority students, minority applicants in states allowing affirmative action are just 1 percentage point less likely to earn admission. That gap jumps to 23 percentage points in states with the ban, according to a 2013 University of Washington study.

"In the midst of a larger conversation about racial diversity on college campuses, it's hard to ignore the potential impact that this case could have," Munguia concludes (Munguia, FiveThirtyEight, 12/9; Desilver, "Fact Tank," Pew Research Center, 4/22/2014).

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