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Affirmative Action Around the World - An Empirical Study [Anglais] [Broché]

Thomas Sowell

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In this important book, an eminent authority presents a new perspective on affirmative action, investigating its actual consequences in the United States and in other countries where it has been in effect. Evaluating his empirical data, Thomas Sowell concludes that race preference programmes worldwide have not met expectations and have often produced the opposite of what was originally intended. "A delight: terse, well-argued, and utterly convincing." Economist "Among contemporary economists and social theorists, one of the most prolific, intellectually independent, and iconoclastic is Thomas Sowell ...Enormously learned, wonderfully clear-headed, he sees reality as it is, and flinches at no truth ...Sowell's presentation of the data is instructive and illuminating - and disturbing."Carl Cohen, Commentary "Another brilliant, bracing achievement by Thomas Sowell. With characteristic lucidity, erudition, and depth, Sowell examines the true effects of affirmative action around the globe. This book is compelling, important, mind-opening." Amy Chua, author of World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability "A masterpiece that deserves to be one of the most influential books of our time. Any honest reader will be informed and enlightened."Donald Kagan, Yale University

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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. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  18 commentaires
97 internautes sur 103 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Thomas Sowell>>>>>>God 29 mai 2004
Par Wheelchair Assassin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
As anyone who regularly reads Thomas Sowell's syndicated columns knows, he's long been one of America's most prominent dissident voices, black or white, approaching every subject he addresses with relentless reason and thorough research. With his latest book, "Affirmative Action Around the World," Sowell jumps right into the debate over one of the world's most controversial subjects: ethnic preference programs. Of course, we all know about Affirmative Action here in the U.S., but as Sowell demonstrates, similar programs can be found in countries all over the world. With his trademark honesty and meticulousness, Sowell explores the results of affirmative action policies in five countries: the United States, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka. This book echoes many of the themes found in Sowell's classic "The Vision of the Anointed," so you may want to check out that book before moving on to this one.
As Sowell states many times throughout the book, his main objective here is to examine the actual effects of affirmative action programs, not the goals or rationales behind them. To put it another way, he sets out to answer the questions that most people don't even ask. The chief problem, in Sowell's view, is that the assumption underlying affirmative action programs is fundamentally flawed. It's just assumed by those advocating such measures that any intergroup disparities in performance must be caused by some sort of systematic discrimination, and a little government intervention is needed to even things out. However, as Sowell notes, such differences have been found all over the world all through history. In virtually any country, a statistically significant group of Chinese, Japanese, or Jewish people will out-earn the majority population, even though they typically have little to no political power. It's been the same with other groups in other countries, regardless of whether they were in any position to discriminate against anybody. It's gotten so ridiculous that in Canada, citizens of Japanese descent have been referred to as a "privileged" group, even though they're a tiny percentage of the population and have suffered horrendous treatment there.
Another major flaw Sowell points out is that proponents of group-preference policies see the whole matter as a zero-sum game, where some of the benefits that one group has "unfairly" gained can simply be taken and given to another group. However, these people, whose mindset you can read all about in "The Vision of the Anointed," fail to account for all the unintended consequences that such policies can produce. Race relations can become frayed as coercion replaces cooperation (as they have in America), members of newly disadvantaged groups can leave the country and take their money and skills with them (Malaysia), and ethnic violence and even civil war can break out (India and Sri Lanka). Even worse, if governments were to stay out of the way, everyone could benefit, as in the 1940's and '50's in this country when white income rose and black income rose even faster with no affirmative action. Instead, government meddling often turns what could be a positive-sum game into a negative-sum one.
Perhaps most disastrously of all, once set in motion group-preference policies tend to take on a life of their own. In all five of the countries Sowell discusses, affirmative action programs are supposed to be in effect for a limited time and cover a limited group of people, but they eventually take on a life of their own as the demands of the privileged groups become ever more radical. In many countries these policies have come to cover more and more groups, often being expanded to more than half the population and always being extended past any timetable set for their expiration. And in all cases, the more privileged members of the preferred groups have reaped almost all of the benefits. This is another theme Sowell covers in "The Vision of the Anointed": the people who set these policies in motion may mean well, but in believing they can control the course of the events they've set in motion they assume more knowledge than anyone has ever had anywhere.
I think the main lesson to be taken from this book is that multi-ethnic societies *can* work, but not with a powerful central government distributing benefits in what essentially amounts to a racial spoils system. In the kind of free-market society advocated by libertarians, where people are free to associate with whomever they see fit, racial tensions could be defused or at least minimized even if there are large disparities in achievement between different groups. As Sowell notes, there have always been achievement gaps in various countries the world over, but these gaps typically don't lead to major tensions or violence until they're politicized by demagogues who stand to gain from encouraging strife (think Jesse Jackson). It's just too bad more people, regardless of race, don't listen to voices of reason like Sowell.
52 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Dr. Sowell Sheds Critical Light on a Most Divisive Issue... 21 avril 2004
Par D. A. Martin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Affirmative action has been arguably the most politically divisive topic in the post-Civil Rights era. President John F. Kennedy originally coined the phrase in an executive order to eliminate discrimination - past and present and primarily suffered by blacks - based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In concept, the initial rationale was based on the idea that the affirmative action policies would be temporary and limited in scope. In practice, however, they have expanded into a pervasive system of goals, timetables and numerical quotas to include other "aggrieved groups", and which over the years have done more harm than good. This phenomenon is not unique to the United States.
In Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study (Yale University Press, 2004), Thomas Sowell takes a global view in examining group preference polices in the U.S., India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. Whether called affirmative action in America, "positive discrimination" in India, preferences "reflecting the federal character of the country" in Nigeria, or "sons of the soil" preferences in Malaysia, Dr. Sowell looks at the similarities in the rationale behind the policies of these aforementioned countries, as well as their actual consequences.
One of the most damaging results of affirmative action in American higher education is the abysmal graduation rate of minority students admitted to elite colleges and universities under lower admissions standards. What makes this phenomenon even more disheartening is that many of these students would be perfectly suited to succeed at academically less rigorous schools, yet are "pervasively mismatched" into schools for which they are not adequately prepared, thus almost guaranteeing their chances of failure.
Dr. Sowell shows how the notions, rationales and assertions supporting affirmative action are widely accepted without being tested empirically. When they are put to the test, they usually do not pass muster, and the mounting evidence of their negative consequences is either suppressed or altogether ignored.
Any citizen desiring an objective, unvarnished understanding of affirmative action would be served well by reading this book. Whereas much has been written and said about the idealistic goals of preferential policies, Dr. Sowell sheds much-needed light on their actual consequences, in the United States and around the world.
42 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The unintended consequences of affirmative action 10 juillet 2004
Par Henry Cate III - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Thomas Sowell presents the results of his research of investigating affirmative action in various countries around the world. He looks at what really happens after affirmative programs are implemented, as opposed to the claims of what would happen. He finds there have been horrible costs from affirmative action programs.
There is a saying: "In theory there is no difference between theory and reality. In reality there is." Thomas Sowell shows the reader how the reality of affirmative action is greatly different from the theory.
The bulk of the book focuses on five countries; there is a chapter on each of the following: India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and the United States. In each of these chapters there is a brief overview, the historical setting, a detailed analysis of the types of quotas & preferences various groups got, an examination of what happened, and then some conclusions.
Again and again I would think of the Law of Unintended Consequences, for as Thomas Sowell points out that (especially in dealing with humans) you can not always predict the outcome of a particular action. One of Thomas Sowell's points is those who have been pushing for affirmative action have a very, very poor track record in being able to predict how the affirmative action programs will help. They will make great claims, but the reality has been very different.
Thomas Sowell finds there are some basic patterns in all of the affirmative action programs. Almost always the programs are promoted as being temporary, but they become permanent. The programs are supposed to be for a specific group, but other groups push for their cause to try and join the bandwagon (gravy wagon). Often those who are suppose to be getting the benefit miss out; a recent example in the United States has been the news that the blacks getting into Harvard are not the decedents of those who were slaves in the United States. Also the groups "needing" help were often doing better before the affirmative action programs than after the programs. He makes the point that there have always been differences in how various groups succeed, for example the Japanese suffered in the United States during World War II, and even more in Canada, yet they are very successful today. And groups that were doing well a hundred years ago aren't always the most successful today.
Thomas Sowell documents how the costs of affirmative action programs have been heavy. The relationships between the various groups get worse because of resentment and a sense of injustice. For example if 100 students for the "favored" group are admitted to a university, then the 800 who don't get in tend to be a bit hostile to the favored group. There have been race riots, and even civil wars. There has been an overall lost to society, as those that are favored tend not to try as hard because they have an edge, while the rest tend to give up because they don't have the extra help.
This is a good book. It is well documented and very thoughtful. Thomas Sowell makes a strong, convincing, argument that we shouldn't have affirmative action programs. If you are interested in the subject of affirmative action, this is a good book to read.
29 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Required AA reading 18 août 2004
Par Sodalug - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book is required reading for anyone with an opinion on affirmative action. If you haven't noticed, most of the support and opposition for AA is somewhat theoretical and rhetorical, very little study has been made about the actual affects of these policies. Another interesting fact is that the US didn't exactly invent AA, and has been around more than twice as long in countries like India in much more stringent forms. So wouldn't it be a good idea to study these countries when creating our own AA policy? Not to mention, these countries, unlike the US, have kept much more detailed statistical records of their AA programs. This is exactly what Sowell does, and his conclusions are not favorable for the pro-AA crowd.

The book is well organized into an introductory chapter, and then single chapters each for the various country case studies. The final chapter summarizes the findings. Each case study is further subdivided into common subsections.

The overriding conclusion of every study is that AA does not work, almost universally hampers the progress of racial minorities instead of helping, and creates racial tension so severe it has resulted in the deaths of over a million people in Nigeria and India (the two worst cases). The severity of these consequences is directly proportional to the stringency of the AA rules. The US version of AA for instance is really quite weak when compared internationally, with its broad racial classes and use of normalizing quotas. Policies in other countries were far more severe and therefore damaging. For instance in Malaysia, the government literally forced Chinese business owners to give interests in their own private businesses to the ethnic Malays in order to promote their equality in commerce. Malaysia's policies eventually resulted in an unusual historic event, the first ever instance of a country voluntarily disowning part of its own territory, Singapore in this case, in order to separate the two now violently opposed racial groups. The case of Nigeria is the saddest of all, where there was formerly racial harmony of this multiethnic state, once the strict AA policies were imposed the country fell into one of the worst civil wars in history, breaking the country into separate territories and an enormous death toll.

Sowell's conclusion is that almost universally AA policies were intended for narrow use, and temporary in nature. Yet as with all government programs, they inevitably take on a life of their own, instead of lasting only a few decades they live forever, and grow in scope as in the US from helping blacks, to eventually helping every group that can lobby their way in from hispanics to native americans to white women. It is at this point that the real purpose of AA becomes all to clear, both in the US as in countries around the world, the wholesale purchase of minority votes at the expense of the entire country.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Good work under difficult conditions 14 avril 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Sowell's subtilte, "An Empirical Subtitle" grabbed my attention and I eagerly began reading the book. In my world this implies the presentation of newly collected data, or at least a reanalysis (secondary analysis) of old data. It is neither. Instead, it is an extended review essay, a summary of results from many different sources that makes many plausible assumptions while debunking arguments for affirmative action. To Sowell's great credit, he keeps acknowledging this and wishes for more empirical studies in a multitude of settings. For me, this is his critical point: there really is a serious shortage of empirical studies of the results of affirmative action everywhere in the world even as available evidence casts doubt on the efficacy of such programs. This is truly astonishing in the USA, where program evaluation requirements are written into virually every federal program enacted into law.
By itself, Sowell's book is a powerful results oriented indictment of affirmative action. If this book doesn't prompt a plethora of dispassionate studies into fruits of affirmative action in the US and abroad, both public policy and the presumption of social science objectivity will be poorer. Sowell raises the level of public debate; his book is a must read for anyone interested in contemporary American politics.
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