Phenotypic Discrimination and Income Differences Among Mexican Americans
AffiliationUniversity of Texas at Austin
KeywordsWages -- Mexican Americans
Mexican Americans -- Employment
Discrimination in employment -- United States
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Collection InformationThe goal of the Mexican American Studies & Research Center's Working Paper Series is to disseminate recent research on the Mexican American experience. The Center welcomes papers from the social sciences, public policy fields, and the humanities. Areas of particular interest include economic and political participation of Mexican Americans, health, immigration, and education. The Mexican American Studies & Research Center assumes no responsibility for statements or opinions of contributors to its Working Paper Series.
AbstractUsing a national probability sample of approximately 1,000 Mexican American heads of household, we analyze a subsample of 253 Mexican American male wage earners and present evidence of the importance of phenotype, measured by skin color and physical features, on earnings, controlling for other factors known to affect earnings. Even after controlling these variables, individuals with a dark and Native American phenotype continue to receive significantly lower earnings than individuals of a lighter and more European phenotype. A decomposition of differences in earnings reveals that most of the differential in earnings between the darkest one-third of the sample and the lighter two-thirds is due not to differences in endowments but rather to labor market discrimination. When taken as a whole, Mexican Americans in all phenotypic groups remain far from having incomes comparable to those of non-Hispanic whites.