Latino Immigrants and the U.S. Racial Order: How and Where Do They Fit In?

Reanne Frank, Ohio State University
Ilana Redstone Akresh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bo Lu, Ohio State University

According to recent population projections, the non-Hispanic white population will no longer constitute the majority of Americans in the near future. These forecasts have touched off a series of debates over the future of the U.S. color line. We address a two-part question regarding racial boundaries and the place of the Latino immigrant population therein. First, we investigate where Latino immigrants place themselves along the U.S. color line in terms of racial self-identification. Second, we evaluate the way the U.S. color line affects outcomes of Latino immigrants. Using data from the New Immigrant Survey, we find that while Latinos do not conceptualize racial categories in terms of skin color alone, they suffer an earnings penalty for darker skin. These findings suggest that even if Latino immigrants are challenging the supremacy of racial phenotype, the prevailing U.S. racial order based on skin color is still exerting powerful effects on their outcomes.

  See paper

Presented in Session 123: Measurement of Race and Ethnicity