Sunday, January 28, 2007
From The New York Times…
Study of Immigrants Links Lighter Skin and Higher Income
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NASHVILLE (AP) — Light-skinned immigrants in the United States make more money on average than those with darker complexions, and the chief reason appears to be discrimination, a researcher says.
The scholar, Joni Hersch, a professor of law and economics at Vanderbilt University, looked at a government survey of 2,084 legal immigrants to the United States from around the world and found that those with the lightest skin earned an average of 8 percent to 15 percent more than similar immigrants with much darker skin.
“On average,” Dr. Hersch said, “being one shade lighter has about the same effect as having an additional year of education.”
The study also found that taller immigrants earned more than shorter ones, with an extra inch of height associated with a 1 percent increase in income.
Other researchers said the findings were consistent with other studies on color and pointed to a skin-tone prejudice that went beyond race.
Dr. Hersch took into consideration other factors that could affect wages, like English-language proficiency, education, occupation, race or country of origin, and found that skin tone still seemed to make a difference in earnings. That meant that if two similar immigrants from Bangladesh, for example, came to the United States at the same time, with the same occupation and ability to speak English, the lighter-skinned one would make more money on average.
“I thought that once we controlled for race and nationality, I expected the difference to go away,” Dr. Hersch said, “but even with people from the same country, the same race, skin color really matters.”
Although many cultures show a bias toward lighter skin, she said her analysis showed that the skin-color advantage was not based on preferential treatment for light-skinned people in their country of origin. The bias, she said, occurs in the United States.