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Affirmative Action Around the World

Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study

Thomas Sowell
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Affirmative Action Around the World
    Book Description:

    This book moves the discussion of affirmative action beyond the United States to other countries that have had similar policies, often for a longer time than Americans have. It also moves the discussion beyond the theories, principles, and laws that have been so often debated to the actual empirical consequences of affirmative action in the United States and in India, Nigeria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and other countries. Both common patterns and national differences are examined. Much of what emerges from a factual examination of these policies flatly contradicts much of what was expected and much of what has been claimed.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12835-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 An International Perspective
    (pp. 1-22)

    While controversies rage over ‘‘affirmative action’’ policies in the United States, few Americans seem to notice the existence or relevance of similar policies in other countries around the world. Instead, the arguments pro and con both tend to invoke history and traditions that are distinctively American. Yet group preferences and quotas have existed in other countries with wholly different histories and traditions—and, in some countries, such policies have existed much longer than in the United States.

    What can the experiences of these other countries tell us? Are there common patterns, common rationales, common results? Or is the American situation...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Affirmative Action in India
    (pp. 23-54)

    India is the world’s largest multi-ethnic society—and the most socially fragmented. A land of well over a hundred languages and hundreds of dialects, where even the most widely spoken language in the country is spoken by less than one-third of the population, India is also cross cut by strong caste, religious, regional and ethnic divisions—expressed in a wide range of ways, from radically different lifestyles to bloodshed in the streets. India has also had affirmative action policies longer than any other nation, beginning in British colonial times, and then provided for in its constitution when it became an...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Affirmative Action in Malaysia
    (pp. 55-77)

    Malaysia is a country of about 23 million people and one of the more prosperous countries in Southeast Asia. The population of Malaysia is 50 percent Malay, 24 percent Chinese and 7 percent Indian.¹ In earlier times, the Chinese minority was much larger—and at one time exceeded in size the Malay population. As of 1948, the population of colonial Malaya was 45 percent Chinese, 43 percent Malay and 10 percent Indian.² Much history lay behind those statistics, as well as the very different statistics of today. The higher fertility rate among the Malays than among the Chinese and Indian...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Affirmative Action in Sri Lanka
    (pp. 78-94)

    The island nation of Sri Lanka, located about 20 miles off the southeast coast of India, stretches 270 miles from north to south and 140 miles from east to west. It has a population of 19 million. Roughly three-quarters of its people are Sinhalese and the principal minority, the Tamils, are less than one-sixth of the population. Since the middle of the twentieth century, Sri Lanka has undergone one of the most remarkable—and catastrophic—changes in the relationship between its majority and minority populations.

    Formerly the British colony of Ceylon, Sri Lanka achieved independence in 1948 with a promising...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Affirmative Action in Nigeria
    (pp. 95-114)

    Like many a country which emerged from colonial rule, Nigeria was never a country before colonial rule. Its very name was given to it by its British rulers. More important, it was an amalgamation of many very diverse West African communities—a fact that was to have fateful implications for its future as a multi-ethnic state. The regions brought together under British hegemony were not only different ethnically, they were different economically, culturally, and geographically.

    Islamic conquests from the north were in progress when British conquest intervened. The Moslem Fulani tribe had conquered the Hausa tribe in the north, but...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Affirmative Action in the United States
    (pp. 115-165)

    Affirmative action policies by the government of the United States confront a problem not found in many other countries. Both the American Constitution and statutes such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandate equal treatment of individuals. Advocates of official group preferences and quotas in the United States have therefore often sought to deny that these were in fact group preferences and quotas. Instead, such policies have been depicted as a correction or forestalling of discrimination, or as promoting ‘‘diversity,’’ whose social benefits are sweepingly asserted or assumed, without actually being tested or demonstrated.¹

    The historical evolution of affirmative...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Past and the Future
    (pp. 166-198)

    If studying history is one way to avoid repeating it, there is much in the history of affirmative action policies around the world that should never be repeated. In too many countries, such policies have turned out to be ways of producing relatively minor benefits for a few and major problems for society as a whole. Both advocates and critics of such policies have tended to over-estimate the benefits that have been transferred. Moreover, the distribution of benefits from group preferences and quotas often shows the same disparities as the broader social inequalities which they are supposed to be remedying....

  11. Notes
    (pp. 199-232)
  12. Index
    (pp. 233-240)