Effect of State and Local Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Laws on Labor Market Differentials

41 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020

Date Written: June 16, 2020


This paper presents the first quasi-experimental research examining the effect of both local and state anti-discrimination laws on sexual orientation on the labor supply and wages of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) workers. To do so, I use the American Community Survey data on household composition to infer sexual orientation and combine this with a unique panel dataset on local anti-discrimination laws. Using variation in law implementation across localities over time, I find that anti-discrimination laws significantly reduce gaps in labor force participation rate, employment, and the wage gap for gay men relative to straight men. These laws also significantly reduce the labor force participation rate, employment, and wage premium for lesbian women relative to straight women. One explanation for the reduced labor supply and wage premium is that lesbian couples begin to have more children in response to the laws, shifting to a more traditional household with one woman working fewer hours. Finally, I present evidence that state anti-discrimination laws significantly and persistently increased support for same-sex marriage. This research shows that anti-discrimination laws can be an effective policy tool for reducing labor market inequalities across sexual orientation and improving sentiment toward LGB Americans.

Keywords: sexual orientation, discrimination, LGBT, LGBTQ, anti-discrimination laws, laws, labor, labor market, labor market differentials, pay gap, gay pay gap, pay premium, lesbian pay premium, public opinion, polling, same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage legalization

JEL Classification: J31, J71, J78, K31

Suggested Citation

Delhommer, Scott, Effect of State and Local Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Laws on Labor Market Differentials (June 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3625193 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3625193

Scott Delhommer (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

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