Skin Color, Immigrant Wages, and Discrimination

Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-17

Appears in: Racism in the 21st Century: An Empirical Analysis of Skin Color, Ronald E. Hall., ed., Springer, 2008

24 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2008 Last revised: 28 Jan 2009

Joni Hersch

Vanderbilt University - Law School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 20, 2008

Abstract

Immigrant workers with darker skin color have lower pay than their counterparts with lighter skin color. Whether this pay penalty is due to labor market discrimination is explored using data from the New Immigrant Survey 2003 to estimate wage equations that control for skin color, sequentially taking into account a series of individual characteristics related to labor market productivity and personal background. These characteristics include Hispanic ethnicity, race, country of birth, education, family background, occupation in source country, English language proficiency, visa status, employer characteristics, and current occupation. The analysis finds that the labor market penalty to darker skin color cannot be attributed to differences in productivity and is evidence of labor market discrimination that arises within the U.S. labor market. The largest groups of post-1965 immigrants - those from Asia and Latin America - are penalized in the U.S. labor market for their darker skin color.

Keywords: skin color discrimination, immigrants, immigrant workers

JEL Classification: J71, J61

Suggested Citation

Hersch, Joni, Skin Color, Immigrant Wages, and Discrimination (June 20, 2008). Appears in: Racism in the 21st Century: An Empirical Analysis of Skin Color, Ronald E. Hall., ed., Springer, 2008; Appears in: Racism in the 21st Century: An Empirical Analysis of Skin Color, Ronald E. Hall., ed., Springer, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1150308

Joni Hersch (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7717 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/go/phdlawecon

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

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