Promulgated in 2012, the Law of Quotas (LdasC) established a minimum standard for affirmative action in access to federal higher education. The evidence suggests that the LdasC changed the profile of the students, without academic damage. However, several aspects of affirmative action may compromise its effectiveness. This study aims to formulate hypotheses about the mechanisms by which LdasC impacts the chances of different groups to access tertiary education, and it measures these impacts. It mobilizes Bourdieu and Passeron’s theory of embodiments to predict reactions in demand by UFMG and Roemer’s Axiom of Identification to measure inequalities of opportunity in access. A natural experiment, with a random “as if” attribution to treatment (greater percentage of vacancies reserved in 2015 than in 2014) for individuals of a certain age, and a matching frontier allow causal inferences. They are employees of the ENEM and School Censuses, and data of the candidates for face-to-face courses offered in Belo Horizonte. The findings indicate that LdasC: i) warmed the demand for higher education among its target audience; ii) reduced access inequalities for high school graduates; and iii) it was more effective in the offers with lower candidate / vacancy ratio, in the degrees and in the day courses.
Affirmative actions; Law of Quotas; access to higher education; Federal University of Minas Gerais; natural experiment