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Identity matters: inter- and intra-racial disparity and labor market outcomes


  • Mason, Patrick L.


Standard analysis of racial inequality incorporates racial classification as an exogenous binary variable. This approach obfuscates the importance of racial self-identity and clouds our ability to understand the relative importance of unobserved productivity-linked attributes versus market discrimination as determinants of racial inequality in labor market outcomes. Our examination of identity heterogeneity among African Americans suggests racial wage disparity is most consistent with weak colorism, while genotype disparity best describes racial employment differences. Further, among African Americans, the wage data are not consistent with the hypothesis that black-mixed race wage disparity can be explained by differences in unobserved productivity-linked productive attributes.

Suggested Citation

  • Mason, Patrick L., 2009. "Identity matters: inter- and intra-racial disparity and labor market outcomes," MPRA Paper 17496, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:17496

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Howard Bodenhorn, 2002. "The Complexion Gap: The Economic Consequences of Color among Free African Americans in the Rural Antebellum South," NBER Working Papers 8957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    racial discrimination; racial inequality; identity; African American; African Diaspora; wage discrimination; employment discrimination; Hispanic; acting white; multi-racial; skin shade;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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