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Affirmative Action Reconsidered: Was It Necessary in Academia? by Thomas Sowell examines the claims and counterclaims surrounding this controversial program as it has been implemented in academia. Statistics replace rhetoric and horror stories, and a survey of history replace conjecture and surmise about the law, about minorities, and about women.

     Professsor Sowell first shows that the administration of affirmative action programs has run counter to the intent of Congress in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Whereas Congress explicitly rejected the use of numerical quotas and placed the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate deliberate discrimination by an employer, numerical quotas have been adopted, the burden of proof has been shifted to the employer, and the requirement of deliberate discrimination has been ignored.

     The author then considers the need for and the effects of an affirmative action program in academia. He looks behind the coarse comparisons of black-white and male-female salary differentials by examining salary differentials for blacks and whites (and males and females) with comparable training and credentials within the numerous academic areas of specialization. Holding these variables constant, he finds that salaries of black academics equalled or surpassed those of white academics both before the application of numerical "goals and timetables" in 1971 and four years after. A similarly careful analysis of male-female salary differentials finds no support for the contention that male-female career differentials are the result of employer discrimination. The explanation, Sowell suggests, is more likely to be found in social mores that cause marital and family responsibilities to fall disproportionately on women.

     Thomas Sowell is professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an adjunct scholar of the American Enterprise Institute and a fellow of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.