Looking through the Shades: The Effect of Skin Color on Earnings by Region of Birth and Race for Immigrants to the United States

Alexis Rosenblum, William Darity, Angel L. Harris, Tod G. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine whether a labor market penalty exists for members of immigrant groups as a result of being phenotypically different from white Americans. Specifically, the authors examine the link between skin shade, perhaps the most noticeable phenotypical characteristic, and wages for immigrants from five regions: (1) Europe and Central Asia; (2) China, East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific; (3) Latin America and the Caribbean; (4) Sub-Saharan Africa; and (5) the Middle East and North Africa. Using data from the New Immigrant Survey, a nationally representative multi-cohort longitudinal study of new legal immigrants to the United States, the authors find a skin shade penalty in wages for darker immigrants. However, disaggregating by region of origin shows that this finding is driven exclusively by the experience of immigrants from Latin America; the wage penalty for skin tone is substantial for self-reported nonblack Latin American immigrants. The effects of colorism are much less pronounced or nonexistent among other national-origin populations. Furthermore, although a skin shade penalty is not discernible among African immigrants, findings show that African immigrants experience a racial wage penalty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-105
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Race and Ethnicity
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Keywords

  • discrimination
  • earnings
  • immigrants
  • skin shade
  • United States

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