Working Paper 2020-525
Recent analysis at the national scale have concluded that there is a strong relationship between skin tones and social mobility in Mexico, where darker skin tones are associated with lower rates of relative upward intergenerational mobility than those observed for lighter skin tones. The present paper shows that this previous estimates are biased upwards as they fail to take into account the effects of regional differences in the distribution of skin tones. We correct for this factor by analyzing a new data set representative at the regional level. Our results suggest that although qualitatively the gap in mobility rates persist, the size of the gaps are smaller than previously reported and vary substantially across Mexican regions. In particular, we find that individuals with light skin tones face higher upward mobility rates and lower downward mobility rates than the rest of the Mexican population.
Authors: Luis Monroy-Gomez-Franco, Roberto Velez-Grajales.