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


Journal Article

© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York. 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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Diette, TM; Goldsmith, AH; Hamilton, D; Darity, W

Published Date

  • June 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 42 / 1-2

Start / End Page

  • 155 - 177

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-6446

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s12114-014-9192-z

Citation Source

  • Scopus