Skin tone stratification among black Americans, 2001-2003

Ellis P. Monk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


In the past few decades, a dedicated collection of scholars have examined the matter of skin tone stratification within the black American population and found that complexion has significant net effects on a variety of stratification outcomes. These analyses relied heavily on data collected between 1950 and 1980. In particular, many scholars have utilized the National Survey of Black Americans (1979-1980). This leaves the question of whether or not the effect of skin tone on stratification outcomes remains decades later. Newly available data from the National Survey of American Life (2001-2003) are used to examine this question. I find that skin tone is significantly associated with black Americans' educational attainment, household income, occupational status, and even the skin tone and educational attainment of their spouses. Consequently, this study demonstrates that skin tone stratification among black Americans persists into the 21st century. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the study of ethnoracial inequality in the United States and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1313-1337
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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