Skin Shade Stratification and the Psychological Cost of Unemployment: Is there a Gradient for Black Females?
- 541 Downloads
The purpose of this paper is to formally evaluate whether the deleterious impact of unemployment on mental health increases as skin shade darkens for black women in the U.S. Using data drawn from the National Survey of American Life, we find strong evidence of a gradient on depression between skin shade and unemployment for black women. These findings are consistent with the premises of the emerging field of stratification economics. Moreover, the findings are robust to various definitions of skin shade. Unemployed black women with darker complexions are significantly more likely to suffer their first onset of depression than unemployed black females with lighter skin shade. While in some cases, lighter skinned black women appeared not to suffer adverse effects of unemployment compared to their employed counterparts, persons with dark complexions did not enjoy the same degree of protection from poor mental health.
KeywordsStratification economics Skin tone Phenotype Unemployment Mental health Depression
JEL ClassificationZ13 I1 J64 J15
The authors acknowledge the comments and suggestions provided by Patrick Mason, Trevon Logan, the participants at the Second Wave Conference at The Ohio State University, and anonymous reviewers. Diette and Goldsmith are grateful for financial support provided by the Lenfest Summer Fellowships at Washington and Lee University.
- Brown DR, Keith VM. The epidemiology of mental disorders and mental health among African American women. In: Brown K, Li U, editors. In and out of our right minds: the mental health of African American women. New York: Columbian University Press; 2003. p. 23–58. Chapter 2.Google Scholar
- Darity Jr W, Myers S. Sex ratios, marriageability, and the marginalization of black males. Challenge. 1992;3(1):5–13.Google Scholar
- Erikson EH. Identity and the life cycle. Psychol Issues. 1959;1:50–100.Google Scholar
- Forbes HD. Ethnic conflict: commerce, culture and the contact hypothesis. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1997.Google Scholar
- Goldsmith AH, Diette TM. 2012. Exploring the link between unemployment and mental health outcomes. The SES Indicator, American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Goldsmith AH, Hamilton D, Darity Jr W. From dark to light: skin color and wages among African-Americans. J Hum Resour. 2007;XLII(4):701–38.Google Scholar
- Hamilton D, Goldsmith AH, Darity Jr W, Fletcher J. 2011. The ‘bluest eye’ and pathways to success: assessing the role of eurocentric and afrocentric appearance, in-group out-group status, and culture on young adult employment, schooling, and disconnection. Working Paper, Washington and Lee University.Google Scholar
- Hunter M. Race, gender, and the politics of skin tone. New York: Routledge; 2005.Google Scholar
- Jahoda M. Employment and unemployment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1982.Google Scholar
- Jahoda M, Lazarsfeld PF, Hans Zeisel H. Marienthal: the sociography of an unemployed community (English translation, 1971). Chicago: Aldine; 1933.Google Scholar
- Krieger N. Discrimination and health. In: Berkman LF, Kawachi I, editors. Social epidemiology. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2000. p. 36–75.Google Scholar
- Pearce-Doughlin S, Goldsmith AH, Darrick H. Colorism. In: Mason PL, editor. Encyclopedia of race and racism. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan; 2013. p. 422–8.Google Scholar
- Rangel M. 2007. Is parental love colorblind? Allocation of resources within mixed-race families. Working paper, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
- Seligman MEP. Helplessness: on depression, development and death. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman; 1975.Google Scholar
- Weiss L, Gardner PS. The other half: unmarried women, economic well-being, and the great recession. The Center for American Progress. 2010. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2010/07/30/8052/the-other-half/.
- Wilson WJ. The truly disadvantaged: the inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1987.Google Scholar
- Wilson RK, Eckel CC. Initiating trust: the conditional effects of skin shade on trust among strangers. In: Druckman JN, editor. Cambridge handbook of experimental political science, vol. 17. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2007. p. 450–90. Chapter 17.Google Scholar
- Women’s Health USA. 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Rockville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.Google Scholar