“Pigmentocracy” in America: Skin-Color, Human Capital Accumulation and Labor Market Outcomes in the U.S.

Marcos A. Rangel, University of Chicago and Universidade de São Paulo
Daniel Kreisman, University of Chicago

A number of studies detect significant association between individual characteristics used to infer ethnic ancestry and various measures of socioeconomic success. In particular, skin-color or complexion still represents the main indicator of European ancestry in the colonies, and plays a key role in social stratification. We use novel data collected specially with the purpose of detecting skin-color differentials for a large and representative sample of the US population. A skin-color module was added by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (Cohort 1997) following approval of research proposal submitted by one of the authors (Rangel). We use the richness and broadness of information collected by the NLSY97 to assess the pertinence of skin color differentials in the contemporary US economy.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 175: Rethinking Racial Distinctions