Academia and the Profession3 May 2022
    Author, Article, and Disclosure Information
    Visual Abstract. Affirmative Action Bans and Enrollment of Underrepresented Medical Students.

    Between 1985 and 2019, 8 U.S. states enacted laws that banned affirmative action during the selection of applicants into 21 public medical schools. The study reported in this article examined whether the bans affected enrollment from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in medicine.



    The percentage of U.S. physicians who identify as being from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group remains low relative to their proportion in the U.S. population. How this percentage may have been affected by state bans on affirmative action in public postsecondary institutions has received relatively little attention.


    To examine the association between state affirmative action bans and percentage of enrollment in U.S. public medical schools from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.


    Event study comparing public medical schools in states that implemented affirmative action bans with those in states without bans.


    U.S. public medical schools.


    21 public medical schools in 8 states with affirmative action bans matched to 32 public medical schools in 24 states without bans from 1985 to 2019.


    Percentage of total enrollment from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine (Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander).


    The percentage of enrollment from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups was 14.8% in U.S. public medical schools in the year before ban implementation in states with bans. The adjusted percentage of underrepresented students in ban schools decreased by 4.8 percentage points (95% CI, −6.3 to −3.2 percentage points) 5 years after ban implementation relative to the year before implementation, whereas the adjusted percentage in control schools increased by 0.7 percentage point (CI, −0.1 to 1.6 percentage points), for a relative difference, or difference-in-differences estimate, of −5.5 percentage points (CI, −7.1 to −3.9 percentage points).


    Inability to account for the effect of these bans on undergraduate enrollment.


    State affirmative action bans were associated with significant reductions in the percentage of students in U.S. public medical schools from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

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