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Darity, William A., Jr.; Hamilton, Darrick; & Dietrich, Jason (2002). Passing on Blackness: Latinos, Race, and Earnings in the USA. Applied Economics Letters, 9(13), 847-853.


One strategy to address the charge that previous statistical measures overestimate the degree of antiblack discrimination in the US labour market because cultural factors have been omitted, has been to control for culture and vary colour. The procedure is to examine labour market outcomes for all persons self-reporting their ancestry as Hispanic (or Latino) while comparing outcomes among them based upon their self-reported race. The results demonstrate that black Latinos, especially males, suffer substantial discriminatory losses in wages. However, there are two problems: (1) a very small proportion of Latinos self-report themselves as black and (2) controlling for culture by combining all persons with Latino ancestry, regardless of specific national origin, into the gross category of Hispanic is potentially unsatisfactory. In this paper, the Hispanic population is disaggregated by nationality using the 5% Public Use Micro Sample from the 1980 and 1990 censuses to compare outcomes by self-reported race. It is still found that male Latino blacks, regardless of their specific national subgroups, were subjected to significant wage discrimination. The paper also reports on studies that have used the Latino National Political Survey that demonstrates that Hispanics tend to self-identify as black at rates inconsistent with the ascriptive profile of the Latino population. It is explained why this suggests that Latinos who choose to self-report their race as black in the US censuses genuinely are likely to ‘look black’ by American norms.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Applied Economics Letters


Darity, William A., Jr.
Hamilton, Darrick
Dietrich, Jason