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Most Latinos say lighter skin tone makes it easier to get ahead: Pew survey

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A majority of Latinos believe that having a darker skin tone hurts their ability to get ahead in the U.S., according to a study released Thursday.

Fifty nine percent of Latino adults surveyed say that having a lighter skin color helps them get ahead, and 62 percent said having a darker skin color hurts them, according to the poll from the Pew Research Center

The study surveyed 3,375 Hispanic adults in March, with researchers asking respondents to measure their skin tone using a version of the Yadon-Ostfeld skin-color scale. Out of the 10 skin colors shown on the scale, 80 percent of Latino adults identified their tone by selecting a lighter color between one and four, while 15 percent selected a darker color between five and 10 on the scale.

More than half of the respondents said that the color of their skin molds their daily life experiences a lot.

Thirty-three percent of those with darker skin and 22 percent of those with lighter skin say someone has criticized them for speaking Spanish in public. Some 32 percent and 20 percent of the two groups, respectively, say someone has told them to go back to their own country.

About 1 in 4 Latinos say their family talked to them about the challenges they might face due to their race or ethnicity when they were growing up. Such conversations, however, were more common among those who said they have a darker skin tone than among those who said they had a lighter skin tone. 

While a majority of Latinos say skin color impacts their opportunities in the U.S. today, most said that education and immigration status have more of an impact.

The survey listed a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

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