Pigmentocracy in the Americas

The Latin America Interest Project (LAPOP) at Vanderbilt University has recently released a report that evaluates the effects of skin color on educational attainment.  Their report, “Pigmentocracy in the Americas: How is Educational Attainment Related to Skin Color?” finds that throughout Latin America there is a consistently negative relationship between pigmentation and educational status, regardless of class origin or other socioeconomic indicators, creating a system the authors call "pigmentocracy."

Because "racial identification in Latin America...is often more ambiguous and fluid than in the United States..." the authors even established units of measurement to quantify the skin shades of their interviewees. The findings reveal that the negative effects of having darker skin aren't just the legacy of historical inequality, but continually reinforced by present-day discrimination. They go on to conclude that "...empirical evidence now shows the importance of color inequality throughout the Americas. Understanding this inequality is the first step for crafting better public policies to mitigate it in the future."

The authors discuss highlights of their findings in an article at Americas Quarterly.

The full report is available at the LAPOP website.