Show Details

The Color Effect

February 20, 2007

Immigrants’ skin color and height affect their wages.


The skin color-salary connection. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

New immigrants face lower wages if they’re darker-skinned and shorter than other immigrants. That’s according to new research by economist Joni Hersch of Vanderbilt University. She compared data on over two thousand legal immigrants from the New Immigrant Survey, and found a difference in wages even after ruling out everything but height and color, including education, profession, birth country, and race.

JONI HERSCH (Vanderbilt University):
If you take two immigrants that are otherwise the same, the darker-skinned person will earn eight to 15 percent less than the lighter-skinned person. The one who is one inch taller than the other will earn one percent higher wages.

She says color biases and height advantages have been found among other groups, but the color bias that new immigrants face is particularly strong.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.