Various countries have forms of reservations (Reservations In India, many employment and educational opportunities are "reserved" for persons of "disadvantaged" birth (i.e. low caste, backward classes etc.)). I understand that the US has Affirmative Action programs, which reward companies hiring people from minority communities. What evidence is there to support that these policies are successful at achieving their goals (i.e. rise in financial conditions/social standing for the target communities)?
I found some links when browsing the wiki page on reservations in India.
The first link describes a study that uses actual data over decades. The findings have been published in a book titled "The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions." It was written by two former Ivy League presidents, William Bowen of Princeton University, an economist, and Derek Bok of Harvard University, a political scientist. Some quotes (from the article):
The study begins by documenting the problem clearly: blacks who enter elite institutions do so with lower test scores and grades than those of whites. And as they work their way through liberal arts colleges like Yale and Princeton and state schools like the Universities of Michigan and North Carolina, black students receive lower grades and graduate at a lower rate.
But after graduation, the survey found, these students achieve notable successes. They earn advanced degrees at rates identical to those of their white classmates. They are even slightly more likely than whites from the same institutions to obtain professional degrees in law, business and medicine. And they become more active than their white classmates in civic and community activities.
... the more selective the college, the more likely were blacks who attended it to graduate, obtain advanced degrees and earn high salaries.
A more troubling question, the authors acknowledge, regards the white students whom these black students displaced. Would society have been better off if they had attended instead of the blacks? ... Bowen and Bok point out that if more than half of the blacks accepted at selective colleges had been rejected, the probability of acceptance for another white applicant would rise only 2 percent, to 27 percent from 25 percent.
But not some good news also ...
They found that the black dropout rate for the elite institutions practicing affirmative action was 25 percent, much lower than the national black dropout average of 60 percent.
The seems to be well-founded, so I guess it makes quite a case for academic affirmative action in the US. Since the system in India is quite different, I don't how much accuracy it will have over here.