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Gay Men Earn 23% Less Pay Than Married Men

This article was written by in Salaries. 5 comments.

Are gay men discriminated against by employers? Yes, according to a new study which appears in the Journal of Labor Research.

The study, co-authored by Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics at UNH Whittemore and Edinaldo Tebaldi of Bryant University in Rhode Island, contains an in-depth analysis of wage and labor data collected by the U.S. Census in March 2004. The dataset represents over 91,000 heterosexual and homosexual couples.

According to the authors, gay men who live together earn 23 percent less than married men, and 9 percent less than unmarried heterosexual men who live with a woman. Discrimination is most pronounced in management and blue-collar, male-dominated occupations such as building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; construction and extraction; and production.

The authors also found that lesbians are not discriminated against when compared with heterosexual women. They conclude that while negative attitudes toward lesbians could affect them, lesbians may benefit from the perception that they are more career-focused and less likely to leave the labor market to raise children than heterosexual women. According to their study, 18.1 percent of lesbians have children, compared with 49.4 percent of straight women.

Within the study, the authors suggest that employer disapproval of the gay lifestyle, fears about offending customers and concerning the transmission of HIV/AIDS may be affecting hiring and salary decisions. While these are certainly plausible theories, the data they examined does not truly provide any information regarding these potential causes, and more research is needed to justify their assertions.

I believe this study raises more questions than it answers, but the data revealed remains of interest, regardless of the whys.

I’ve long been disturbed that even in 2007, salary and position inequalities still exist between men and women, but until now, I hadn’t realized that homosexual men were affected as well. Gay couples already face unique retirement challenges, and compensation inequities only exacerbate the issue.

Gay men can earn 23 pct less than married men: study [Reuters UK]
New Research Finds Gay Men, But Not Lesbians, Are Discriminated Against in Some Jobs [UNH Media Relations]

Published or updated November 9, 2007.

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About the author

Along with her partner, Sasha owns and manage six residential rental units. Sasha endeavors to support the causes and organizations she believes in through more conscientious spending practices. View all articles by .

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

yup, raises too many questions. Causal relationships seems to have gone out the window in this study.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

If you think gay men earn less than married men, the income figures for transgender (“MTF”) men are much lower. At a transgender job fair in San Francisco last year, 53% reported annual incomes less than $30K.

2006 Job Fair

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I wonder if there are significant differences in the types of jobs that gay men are taking up. I know that this is has an impact on why women are paid less.

More research clearly needs to be done. We should have got past discrimination on anything other than ability to do the job now.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I definitely think gay men are discriminated against, but I also hate studies that try to draw easy conclusions. There are so many additional questions and factors. I think one of the things that may differ significantly in homosexual realtionships vs. heterosexuals one is the division of labor. In a traditional married couple, the woman takes care of the home so the husband can concentrate on his career. It seems unclear to me if there’s this dynamic amongst homosexual male couples or not.

I also find the comparison of lesbian couples just to heterosexual women somewhat an inaccurate comparison. Really it should be the total income of the couples that should be compared. Are lesbian couples making more or less than corresponding heterosexual couple? I guess this goes with the males couples as well.

Interesting study, but as always I find citing just the resultant statistics less useful than looking at what is a really complicated issue.

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avatar 5 Sasha


I agree about the study–I feel they could have structured it and analyzed it differently and had it be much more impactful. However, I’m glad to see them bringing the issue to light regardless.

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