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Hamilton, Darrick; Goldsmith, Arthur H.; & Darity, William A., Jr. (2009). Shedding "Light" on Marriage: The Influence of Skin Shade on Marriage for Black Females. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 72(1), 30-50.


The inter-racial marriage gap that opened in the past 50 years is generally attributed to a decline in the availability of young black marriageable men. We contend that the associated shortage of desirable men in the marriage market provides those black men who are sought after with the opportunity to attain a high status spouse, which has placed a premium on black women with lighter skin. We provide evidence, based on data drawn from the Multi City Study of Urban Inequality, consistent with this hypothesis. Our theoretical analysis of the marriage market reveals that marriage promotion policies to increase the desire to marry on the part of young black women will serve to exacerbate the importance attached to skin shade.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization


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