The Consequences of "race and Color" in Brazil

Ellis P. Monk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The vast majority of quantitative research on ethnoracial inequality uses census categories. In this article, however, I question whether census categories (in Brazil) are the most adequate measure for estimating ethnoracial inequality. Using the first nationally representative survey to include interviewer-rated skin color data in Brazil (LAPOP 2010), I examine: (1) the association between skin color and stratification outcomes, (2) how using multiple measures of race may reveal different information about inequality across different outcomes, and (3) whether census race categories and skin color should be considered equivalent or analytically distinct concepts. I find that skin color is a stronger predictor of educational attainment and occupational status among Brazilians than race (operationalized as census race-color categories used in virtually all research on ethnoracial inequality in Brazil). Centrally, this study finds that "race" and "color" are analytically distinct concepts given that they are empirically distinct, even though they are often conflated in everyday life and by social scientists. The implications of these findings for the study of ethnoracial inequality in Brazil and beyond are discussed, with a focus on directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-430
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Brazil
  • cognition
  • ethnoracial inequality
  • race
  • skin color


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