Skin Color, Physical Appearance, and Perceived Discriminatory Treatment

28 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2011

See all articles by Joni Hersch

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: May 31, 2011

Abstract

This paper examines the relation between observer-ratings of attractiveness and skin tone, weight, and height, and provides evidence on whether these physical characteristics affect the likelihood that individuals report discriminatory treatment in a variety of contexts. African Americans with lighter color, and white men with darker color, are rated as more attractive, as are taller men and both men and women of normal weight. Although a vast literature indicates that physical appearance influences how one is treated, there is little evidence that perceived discriminatory treatment is related to physical characteristics such as attractiveness, weight, or height. An exception is for African Americans with lighter skin color who report less discriminatory treatment in daily activities and on the basis of color.

Keywords: skin tone, attractiveness, obesity, discrimination

JEL Classification: J15, J7, Z13

Suggested Citation

Hersch, Joni, Skin Color, Physical Appearance, and Perceived Discriminatory Treatment (May 31, 2011). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-26, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1857160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1857160

Joni Hersch (Contact Author)

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Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

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