Affirmative Action Benefits Asian Americans

Prop 209: a Case Study

There is quantitative and qualitative data that proves affirmative action benefits Asian Americans in admissions.  After Prop 209 banned affirmative action in public higher education in 1998, the rate of AAPI admissions decreased significantly for all UC campuses except UC Riverside, and diversity levels have never been the same since. 

The immediate effects of Prop 209:

  • Black, Latinx, and Native American students experienced a precipitous drop in admissions across the UC system, with 30 percent drops in Black, Chicano, and Native American admission rates in a single year at UC Berkeley.  
  • Although Asian Americans were not affected as dramatically, their admissions rate also fell at five out of eight UC campuses, with drops of up to 32 percent at UCLA over a 9-year period.  
  • Filipino Americans (like African Americans), who were beneficiaries under affirmative action, were “zeroed out” at Boalt Law School.

Since California eliminated affirmative action in its public universities, Asian American students have been less likely to get into the UC system than under an affirmative action regime.

The UC system has never had the same level of diversity that it had before Prop 209, despite significant investment in race-neutral diversity programs.

Additional Resources:


Advancing Justice-LA Advancing Justice-LA's helplines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: discrimination, family, immigration, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights. 

English: 888.349.9695
中文: 800.520.2356
한글: 800.867.3640
Tagalog: 855.300.2552
ภาษาไทย: 800.914.9583
Tiếng Việt: 714.477.2958


Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.