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Skin Tone's Decreasing Importance on Employment: Evidence from a Longitudinal Dataset, 1985-2000


  • Akee, Randall K. Q.

    () (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Yuksel, Mutlu

    () (Dalhousie University)


We investigate the effect of skin tone on employment probabilities in a longitudinal data set. Using an objective measure of skin tone from a light-spectrometer and a self-reported measure of race we find that over time the effect of skin tone on employment has diminished. These results hold both across the white and African-American samples as well as within the African-American sample itself with regard to skin tone. Further investigation indicates that all of the gains can be attributed to African-American women; there are no changes in the employment probabilities for African-American men in the 15 year panel data. We find that the expansion of employment for women is concentrated in the services occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Akee, Randall K. Q. & Yuksel, Mutlu, 2010. "Skin Tone's Decreasing Importance on Employment: Evidence from a Longitudinal Dataset, 1985-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 5120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5120

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. O'Neill, June & Polachek, Solomon, 1993. "Why the Gender Gap in Wages Narrowed in the 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 205-228, January.
    3. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2005. "Selection, Investment, and Women's Relative Wages Since 1975," NBER Working Papers 11159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    1. repec:spr:blkpoe:v:44:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s12114-017-9249-x is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    employment discrimination; skin tone; race; gender; panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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