Abstract

We evaluate the role skin color plays in earnings and employment for black males in the NLSY97. By applying a novel, scaled measure of skin tone to a nationally representative sample and by estimating the evolution of labor market differentials over time, we bridge a burgeoning literature on skin color with more established literatures on wage differentials and labor market discrimination. We find that while intraracial wage gaps widen with experience, gaps between the lightest-skinned black workers and whites remain constant, suggesting that a blurring of the color line elicits subtle yet meaningful variation in earnings differentials over time.

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