• Phenotypic Discrimination and Income Differences Among Mexican Americans

      Telles, Edward E.; Murguia, Edward; University of Texas at Austin; Trinity University (University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, 1988)
      Using a national probability sample of approximately 1,000 Mexican American heads of household, we analyze a subsample of 253 Mexican American male wage earners and present evidence of the importance of phenotype, measured by skin color and physical features, on earnings, controlling for other factors known to affect earnings. Even after controlling these variables, individuals with a dark and Native American phenotype continue to receive significantly lower earnings than individuals of a lighter and more European phenotype. A decomposition of differences in earnings reveals that most of the differential in earnings between the darkest one-third of the sample and the lighter two-thirds is due not to differences in endowments but rather to labor market discrimination. When taken as a whole, Mexican Americans in all phenotypic groups remain far from having incomes comparable to those of non-Hispanic whites.