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From Dark to Light: Skin Color and Wages Among African-Americans

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  • Arthur H. Goldsmith
  • Darrick Hamilton
  • William Darity, Jr

Abstract

This paper develops and tests a theory, referred to as "preference for whiteness," which predicts that the interracial (white-black) and intraracial wage gap widens as the skin shade of the black worker darkens. Using data drawn from the Multi City Study of Urban Inequality and the National Survey of Black Americans, we report evidence largely consistent with the theory. Moreover, we decompose the estimated interracial and intraracial wage gaps, and find that favorable treatment of lighter-skinned workers is a major source of interracial and intraracial wage differences as predicted by the theory.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:42:y:2007:i4:p701-738
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kenneth Couch, 2002. "Black-White Wage Inequality in the 1990s: a Decade of Progress," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(1), pages 31-41, January.
    2. 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.
    3. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 2000. "Working hard for the money? Efficiency wages and worker effort," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 351-385, August.
    4. William Rodgers & William Spriggs, 1996. "What does the AFQT really measure: Race, wages, schooling and the AFQT score," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 13-46, June.
    5. William Darity, 2004. "The wellspring of racial inequality," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 61-68, December.
    6. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    7. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    8. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    9. Donna Ginther & Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 2000. "Neighborhood Attributes as Determinants of Children's Outcomes: How Robust Are the Relationships?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 603-642.
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