The Decreasing Effect of Skin Tone on Women's Full-Time Employment
The authors investigate the effect of skin tone on labor market outcomes to determine the extent to which differences in full-time employment probabilities are due to the persistence of racial and gender discrimination or other unobserved differences. Using the Coronary Artery Risk in Young Adults (CARDIA) survey for the period spanning 1985 to 2000, which includes both African American and white young adults, as well as an objective measure of skin tone from a light-spectrometer and a self-reported measure of race, they find that the effect of skin tone on employment diminished over time. These results hold across both samples as well as within the African American subsample. Further investigation indicates that all the labor market gains can be attributed to African American women, whose outcomes converged with those of their white counterparts by 2000. Similarly, within the subsample, the employment outcomes of darker-toned women converged with those of lighter-toned women. There were no changes in the employment probabilities for African American men in the 15-year panel data. The expansion of full-time employment opportunities occurred primarily in the low-skilled service occupations.
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