Recent Studies Highlight Prop 209’s Negative Effects

August 9, 2008

Michael Sumner, PhD is a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. He recently conducted two studies, entitled Free to Compete? and A Vision Fulfilled?.

These studies focused on the impact of the anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 for small businesses owned by people of color and women in California’s transportation construction industry and include evidence-based recommendations.

Dr. Sumner used several methodologies, including Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awards distributed by Caltrans, the survival rate of 1996 certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), and surveys, focus groups, and interviews with surviving businesses. The analyses illustrated the largely negative effects that took place after the passage of Proposition 209, including reductions in awards to DBEs, a modest survival rate for certified DBEs, a decreased effectiveness of the DBE program, and an industry culture that continues to hinder equal opportunity.

Both studies are available at


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