Pathways to Skin Tone Stratification: The Role of Inherited (Dis)Advantage and Skin Tone Discrimination in Labor Markets (with D. Garcia)

Research has uncovered associations between skin color and myriad outcomes, including labor market outcomes. What drives these associations? This paper develops a theoretical framework that synthesizes the multiple pathways linking skin color with life chances. We argue that skin tone stratification should be conceptualized in historical, structural terms: as the result of both unequal treatment in the present day and inherited (dis)advantage, i.e., unequal resources transmitted by families with different skin tones. We assess the role of both pathways––discrimination and inherited (dis)advantage––for Blacks’ and Latinos’ employment, earnings, and occupational prestige. The analyses use the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, which has important strengths, including a fine-grained, visual skin color measure, multiple indicators of family background, and a sibling subsample that allows us, using fixed-effects models, to recover the effect of skin color net of family background. Basic indicators of family background account for 25% to 32% of skin color’s associations with employment and earnings. By contrast, siblings with different skin tones do not attain significantly different outcomes, with the exception of occupational status among Latinos. In sum, our findings suggest that we pay attention to the multiple pathways through which skin color and life chances are linked.

Unequal treatment toward copartisans versus non-copartisans is reduced when partisanship can be falsified (with K. Makovi, A. Sargsyan)

Studies show that Democrats and Republicans treat copartisans better than they do non-copartisans. However, party affiliation is different from other identities associated with unequal treatment. Unlike race or gender, people can more easily falsify, i.e., lie about or conceal, their party affiliation. We use a behavioral experiment to study how people allocate resources to copartisan and non-copartisan partners when partners are allowed to falsify their affiliation and may have incentives to do so. When affiliation can be falsified, the gap between contributions to signaled copartisans and signaled non-copartisans is eliminated. This happens in part because some participants––especially strong partisans––suspect that partners who signal a copartisan affiliation are, in fact, non-copartisans. Suspected non-copartisans earn less than both partners who signal that they are non-copartisans and partners who withhold their affiliation. The findings reveal an unexpected upside to the availability of falsification: at the aggregate level, it reduces unequal treatment across groups. At the individual-level, however, falsification is risky.

People use Both Heterogeneity and Minority Representation to Evaluate Diversity (with J. Xu and D. Baldassarri)

The term "diversity" is widely used, including in defense of race-related policies and practices. "Diversity," however, can mean different things. Diversity can refer to heterogeneity, i.e., the number of groups in a community and the distribution of people across them, or to the representation of specific minority groups. We use a conjoint experiment with a race-stratified, national sample to uncover which properties––heterogeneity or minority representation––US Americans use to evaluate how racially diverse a neighborhood is and whether this varies by respondents' race. We show that perceived diversity is strongly associated with heterogeneity, and specifically the even distribution of people across racial groups. This association is more pronounced among Whites than among Blacks, Latinos, or Asians. In addition, the representation of in-group and Non-White out-group members matters. Holding heterogeneity constant, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians view neighborhoods where their own group is largest to be more diverse. Whites vary in their tendency to associate diversity with representation, and Whites who report conservative stances on diversity-related policy issues (affirmative action and immigration) actually view predominately White neighborhoods as more diverse than predominately Black neighborhoods. The findings suggest that perceived diversity rests on properties––heterogeneity and minority representation––that are distinct and, occasionally, orthogonal. They also raise concerns about the use of ``diversity’’ to defend race-related policies. People with different stances on and stakes in these policies may agree that diversity is desirable while disagreeing on what makes a community diverse.