Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Labor Market Descrimination: American-Born Filipinos

Yamane, Linus. 2002. “Native-Born Filipina/o Americans and Labor Market Discrimination.” Feminist Economics. 8(2): 125-144.

The study discussed in this article draws on data gathered from 1990 US census to determine whether American-born Filipinos and Filipinas experience labor market discrimination. To do this, Yamane compares the incomes and positions of both Filipinas and Filipinos with non-hispanic white women and men. Yamane also attempted to examine the effects of gender discrimination in the comparisons. In addition, the study tests for any differences in the extent of discrimination experienced by Filipinos with different levels of education and in different regions of the country.

Yamane’s study did find Filipino Americans face significant levels of discrimination in the labor market. Less clear, however, is how the factors of gender and race operate and influence each other.


The sample from the census used to examine native-born Filipinos and non-Hispanic whites was comprised of persons between 25 and 64 who worked full-time (at least 35 hrs/wk), were not self-employed, earned at least $3,000, and worked for at least half of 1989.

To estimate the degree of discrimination experienced by Filipinos, Yamane, uses the “Oxaca Decompisition” (a tool economists use to examine racial and gender discrimination). The process involves examining characteristics (age, education, experience, hours worked, weeks worked, region of residence, industry, occupation, and marital status) that are theoretically relevant to the determination of wages. Estimates are made to determine the effect each characteristic influence the wages earned. Using the outcome of various equations, Yamane could compare actual wages with the estimation of earnings if treated the same as non-Hispanic whites. Similar calculations were used to estimate discrimination in terms of job advancement and wage levels compared to education levels obtained.


In separate examinations, Yamane compared Filipinas to both white men and women, but both comparisons revealed that Filipinas are disproportionately more likely employed in occupational categories like administrative support, domestic services, the hospitality services, and retail sales (cashiers). They are also underrepresented in “professional specialty occupations,” like elementary school teachers, as well as skilled labor jobs like machine operators, assemblers, and assembly inspectors. However, in comparison to white men, Filipinas were also disproportionately in occupations hospital-related services (nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants) and underrepresented in production, craft, and repair occupations.

In Yamane’s comparison of Filipino males with white males, it was revealed that Filipinos are disproportionately represented in administrative support, protective services (like security guards), technical support, hospitality services, retail, and the military. Like Filipinas, Filipinos are underrepresented in professional specialty occupations (like teachers), machine operators and in management.

In regards to wages, Yamane found no statistically significant difference between those earned by Filipinas and white women. However, compared with the earnings of white men, Filipinas were estimated to earn 20-24% less (statistically significant at the 5% level). Another finding that was statistically significant, Yamane found that Filipino men earn 1-4% less than white men in terms of annual wage and salary.

In comparison of regions, the calculations indicate that Filipino men and women generally do better in the West (with the exception of California and Hawaii) and they fair worst in the South and Northeast. However, in comparing by gender, Yamane did not find a strong relationship between the level of discrimination faced by Filipino men and Filipinas in the same regions.

Although there seemed to be some expectation that Filipino regional population size would impact the outcome, the varying results for Hawaii, California, the West, and South (some of the regions where the population is most significant) indicated to Yamane that there is not a clear relationship between discrimination and population size.

As far as access to advancement is concerned, Yamane’s evidence suggested that Filipino Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to be promoted to a supervisor or manager level position. Yamane does point out, however, that the source for the study – census data – does not distinguish between varying levels of status that could accompany the title of “manager” and it does not indicate whether higher positions were offered, but rejected or simply denied.

No comments: