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Passing on blackness: Latinos, race, and earnings in the USA


  • William Darity
  • Darrick Hamilton
  • Jason Dietrich


One strategy to address the charge that previous statistical measures overestimate the degree of antiblack discrimination in the US labour market because cultural factors have been omitted, has been to control for culture and vary colour. The procedure is to examine labour market outcomes for all persons self-reporting their ancestry as Hispanic (or Latino) while comparing outcomes among them based upon their self-reported race. The results demonstrate that black Latinos, especially males, suffer substantial discriminatory losses in wages. However, there are two problems: (1) a very small proportion of Latinos self-report themselves as black and (2) controlling for culture by combining all persons with Latino ancestry, regardless of specific national origin, into the gross category of Hispanic is potentially unsatisfactory. In this paper, the Hispanic population is disaggregated by nationality using the 5% Public Use Micro Sample from the 1980 and 1990 censuses to compare outcomes by self-reported race. It is still found that male Latino blacks, regardless of their specific national subgroups, were subjected to significant wage discrimination. The paper also reports on studies that have used the Latino National Political Survey that demonstrates that Hispanics tend to self-identify as black at rates inconsistent with the ascriptive profile of the Latino population. It is explained why this suggests that Latinos who choose to self-report their race as black in the US censuses genuinely are likely to 'look black' by American norms.

Suggested Citation

  • William Darity & Darrick Hamilton & Jason Dietrich, 2002. "Passing on blackness: Latinos, race, and earnings in the USA," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(13), pages 847-853.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:apeclt:v:9:y:2002:i:13:p:847-853 DOI: 10.1080/13504850210149133

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Krueger & Pei Zhu, 2002. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 849, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Dennis Sullivan & Andrea Ziegert, 2008. "Hispanic Immigrant Poverty: Does Ethnic Origin Matter?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 27(6), pages 667-687, December.
    3. Prosper F. Bangwayo-Skeete & Precious Zikhali, 2011. "Social exclusion and labour market outcomes: evidence from Eastern Europe and Central Asia," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(3), pages 233-250, September.
    4. Duncan, Brian & Trejo, Stephen, 2008. "Ancestry versus Ethnicity: The Complexity and Selectivity of Mexican Identification in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 3552, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Krueger, Alan B. & Zhu, Pei, 2002. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Brian Duncan & Stephen J. Trejo, 2011. "Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital for Mexican Americans," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 195-227.
    7. Francisca Antman & Brian Duncan, 2015. "Incentives to Identify: Racial Identity in the Age of Affirmative Action," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 710-713, July.
    8. Arthur H. Goldsmith & Darrick Hamilton & William Darity, Jr, 2007. "From Dark to Light: Skin Color and Wages Among African-Americans," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
    9. Suzanne Model, 2013. "The Effect of Nativity, Ethnicity and Race on the Earnings of Cape Verdean Americans," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 425-448, December.
    10. Hamilton, Darrick & Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Darity Jr., William, 2009. "Shedding "light" on marriage: The influence of skin shade on marriage for black females," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 30-50, October.

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