Skin Color Inequality in Mexico: A Sibling Fixed Effects Approach

Project Overview: Within the last five years, researchers have uncovered vast evidence of significant skin-color-based inequalities in Mexico. Light skinned Mexicans have more education, higher incomes, better health, and better jobs than their dark skinned counterparts. These findings have challenged Mexico’s national ideology of Mestizaje, which downplayed the significance of race within the Mexican population. However, it is still not clear what factors are producing these inequalities. Prominent voices in Mexico have argued that these gaps are caused by discrimination by employers or teachers on the basis of color. Others have argued that these gaps may stem from discrimination that took place during Mexico’s colonial era. However, individual differences in family class background may account for some of the color-based gaps. We will design our own survey instrument and adopt a sibling fixed effects approach to illuminate the social mechanisms that produce these color-based inequalities in contemporary Mexico. This approach powerfully accounts for family-level differences by removing the effect of observed and unobserved factors that might influence the socioeconomic outcomes of interest and are shared by the very fact of belonging to the same family. This research will contribute to our theoretical understanding of racial boundaries by assessing the impact of race in a setting outside of the U.S. 

Bio: René D. Flores is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. 

Flores’ research interests are in the fields of international migration, race and ethnicity, and social stratification. His research explores the emergence of social boundaries around immigrants and racial minorities across the world as well as how these boundaries contribute to the reproduction of ethnic-based social inequality. 

His work has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Forces, and Social Problems, among others. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Sociological Association, the Paul Merage Foundation, and others. His research has been reported by BBC, NPR, USA Today, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post, among others.

Flores received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University in 2014.


René D. Flores[1] and Ana Canedo[2]

[1]Neubauer Family Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, University of Chicago.

[2]Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.