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Goldsmith, Arthur H.; Hamilton, Darrick; & Darity, William A., Jr. (2006). Shades of Discrimination: Skin Tone and Wages. American Economic Review, 96(2), 242-245.


By utilizing the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality (MCSUI), a survey dataset that includes information on a salient aspect of each respondent’s appearance (skin shade), we are able to examine four issues involving race and inequality in the United States. The first is whether skin tone differentials among blacks continue to be important in the aftermath of the civil rights movement. The second is the significance ascribed to cultural factors in explaining racial differences in economic outcomes. Third is the conventional belief that there is a fundamental difference in the understanding of race in the United States compared to in Latin America. In the U.S., racial distinction is based largely on an individual’s genotype (ancestry), while in Latin America it is predicated largely on an individual’s phenotype (physical characteristics). Finally, we consider whether skin shade itself is an operative signal for discriminators in labor markets.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Economic Review


Goldsmith, Arthur H.
Hamilton, Darrick
Darity, William A., Jr.