Reanne Frank of Ohio State University in Columbus says while some Latino immigrants to the United States may be accepted as white, relatively darker-skinned Latinos earned, on average, $2,500 less per year than their lighter-skinned counterparts.
Frank, Bo Lu of Ohio State, and Ilana Redstone Akresh of the University of Illinois analyzed data -- including skin color -- gathered by interviewers as part of the 2003 New Immigrant Survey that involved 1,539 self-identified Latinos.
The study, published in the American Sociological Review, noted Latino or Hispanic was not a survey option and 79 percent of the Latinos decided to identify themselves as white.
However, 14 percent of the Latinos refused to identify with any race listed on the survey.
Frank says those less likely to choose a racial category had children, were proficient in English and were considered the most integrated into U.S. society.
"We believe the more-integrated immigrants have faced discrimination in the country, and realize that 'white' is not an identity that is open to them," Frank says in a statement. "They may be trying to develop a new alternative Latino racial category."