Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Andrew Hobbs (PhD)

Second Advisor

Bruce Wydick (PhD)

Third Advisor

Jesse Antilla-Hughes (PhD)


Abstract: Does my skin tone really matter? If it does, to what extent and direction does skin tone predict socioeconomic outcomes, especially amongst people of color who have experienced colonial rule with its white supremacy agenda? In this research, we examined if skin tone measured in individual typology angle (ITA) does not affect employability, income, partner selection, and political representativeness. With a focus on Nigeria, the most populous black nation, a former British colony, we addressed this broad question through a survey. Using the iterative capability of Qualtrics which randomly picks a set of three pictures with known ITA and randomly assigns each with age, work experience, education level, and expected salary, we obtained 386 data points delineated across different gender, sexual orientation, age, and skin tones. Our results showed that male respondents are biased towards lighter skin and younger employees; darker skinned respondents prefer lighter skin, younger, and less educated partners; and respondents 45+ years prefer darker skinned political representatives. Quantitatively, we found that generally, 1𝜎 Skin tone approximates +2.5pp of employability, 0.11 education years, 0.2 years of relevant work experience, 0.4 Age in years and –0.27 in expected salary ($4,500pa). For male employers: 1𝜎 Skin tone approximated +11.3pp employability, 0.50 formal years of education, 0.8 years in relevant work experience, –2.0 Age in years, and –1.3 in expected salary ($21,600pa). In partner selection, 1𝜎 Skin tone approximated +1.3pp in the general population, +5.4pp for dark skinned respondents, –9.86pp in Southeastern Nigeria, –37.1pp in South-South region of Nigeria. In political representativeness, 1𝜎 Skin tone approximates –3.79pp amongst the general respondents, and –24.2pp for respondents 45+ years.