The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 42, Issue 1–2, pp 155–177 | Cite as

Skin Shade Stratification and the Psychological Cost of Unemployment: Is there a Gradient for Black Females?

  • Timothy M. Diette
  • Arthur H. Goldsmith
  • Darrick Hamilton
  • William DarityJr.
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Stratification economics Skin tone Phenotype Unemployment Mental health Depression 

JEL Classification

Z13 I1 J64 J15 

References

  1. Atkinson T, Liem R, Liem JH. The social costs of unemployment: implications for social support. J Health Soc Behav. 1986;27(4):317–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blumer H. Race prejudice as a sense of group position. Pac Sociol Rev. 1958;1(1):3–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Borrell LN, Kiefe CI, Williams DR, Diez-Roux AV, Gordon-Larsen P. Self-reported health, perceived racial discrimination, and skin color in African Americans in the CARDIA study. Soc Sci Med. 2006;63:1415–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 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
  5. Chiteji N, Hamilton D. Family connections and the black-white wealth gap among the middle class. Rev Black Polit Econ. 2002;30(1):9–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Darity WJ. Stratification economics: the role of intergroup inequality. J Econ Financ. 2005;29(2):144–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Darity Jr W, Myers S. Sex ratios, marriageability, and the marginalization of black males. Challenge. 1992;3(1):5–13.Google Scholar
  8. Eberhardt JL, Goff PA, Purdie VJ, Davies PG. Seeing black: race, crime and visual processing. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004;87:876–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eisenberg P, Lazarsfeld PF. The psychological effects of unemployment. Psychol Bull. 1938;35:358–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Erikson EH. Identity and the life cycle. Psychol Issues. 1959;1:50–100.Google Scholar
  11. Forbes HD. Ethnic conflict: commerce, culture and the contact hypothesis. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1997.Google Scholar
  12. Francis AM, Tannuri-Pianto M. Endogenous race in Brazil: affirmative action and the construction of racial identity among young adults. Econ Dev Cult Chang. 2013;61(4):731–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Goldsmith AH, Diette TM. 2012. Exploring the link between unemployment and mental health outcomes. The SES Indicator, American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  14. 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
  15. Gyimah-Brempong K, Price GN. Crime and punishment: and skin hue too? Am Econ Rev. 2006;96(2):246–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hamilton D, Darity Jr W. Can ‘baby bonds’ eliminate the racial wealth gap in putative post-racial America? Rev Black Polit Econ. 2010;37(3,4):207–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamilton D, Goldsmith AH, Darity Jr W. Shedding ‘light’ on marriage: the influence of skin shade on marriage for black females. J Econ Behav Organ. 2009;72(1):30–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 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
  19. Hersch J. Skin tone effects among African Americans: perceptions and reality. Am Econ Rev Pap Proc. 2006;96(2):251–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill ME. Color differences in the socioeconomic status of African American men: results of a longitudinal study. Soc Forces. 2000;78(4):1437–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hunter M. Race, gender, and the politics of skin tone. New York: Routledge; 2005.Google Scholar
  22. Hunter M. Teaching and learning guide for: the persistent problem of colorism: skin tone, status, and inequality. Sociol Compass. 2008;2(1):366–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jahoda M. Employment and unemployment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1982.Google Scholar
  24. Jahoda M, Lazarsfeld PF, Hans Zeisel H. Marienthal: the sociography of an unemployed community (English translation, 1971). Chicago: Aldine; 1933.Google Scholar
  25. Keith V, Herring C. Skin tone and stratification in the black community. Am J Sociol. 1991;97(3):760–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:593–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Klonoff EA, Landrine H. Is skin color a marker for racial discrimination? Explaining the skin color–hypertension relationship. J Behav Med. 2000;23(4):329–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Krieger N. Discrimination and health. In: Berkman LF, Kawachi I, editors. Social epidemiology. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2000. p. 36–75.Google Scholar
  29. Maddox KB. Perspectives on racial phenotypicality bias. Personal Soc Psychol Rev. 2004;8(4):383–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McKee-Ryan FM, Song Z, Wanberg CR, Kinicki AJ. Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: a meta-analytic study. J Appl Psychol. 2005;90(1):53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Miller DL, Page ME, Stevens AH, Filipski M. Why are recessions good for your health? Am Econ Rev. 2009;99(2):122–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mocan N, Tekin E. Ugly criminals. Rev Econ Stat. 2010;92(1):15–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Paul KI, Moser K. Unemployment impairs mental health: meta-analyses. J Vocat Behav. 2009;74(3):264–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. Ruhm CJ. Are recessions good for your health? Q J Econ. 2000;115(2):617–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schneider D. Wealth and the marital divide. Am J Sociol. 2011;117(2):627–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Seligman MEP. Helplessness: on depression, development and death. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman; 1975.Google Scholar
  39. Thompson MS, Keith VM. The blacker the berry: gender, skin tone, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Gend Soc. 2001;5(3):336–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 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/.
  41. Wilson WJ. The truly disadvantaged: the inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1987.Google Scholar
  42. 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
  43. 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

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy M. Diette
    • 1
  • Arthur H. Goldsmith
    • 1
  • Darrick Hamilton
    • 2
  • William DarityJr.
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWashington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Milano–The New School for International Affairs, Management and Urban PolicyThe New SchoolNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Sanford School of Public PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations