The Earnings Effects of Sexual Orientation

Posted: 1 Aug 2003

See all articles by Dan Black

Dan Black

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Hoda R. Makar

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Seth G. Sanders

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Lowell J. Taylor

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Abstract

This investigation of the effect of sexual orientation on earnings employs General Social Survey data from 1989-96. Depending largely on the definition of sexual orientation used, earnings are estimated as having been between 14% and 16% lower for gay men than for heterosexual men, and between 20% and 34% higher for lesbian women than for heterosexual women. This evidence, the authors suggest, is consistent with either of two complementary constructions: Gary Becker's argument that male/female earnings differentials are rooted in specialization within households and in optimal human capital accumulation decisions individuals make when they are young; and Claudia Goldin's observations about marriage-based gender discrimination, according to which the paternalistic "protection" of wives and mothers from the world of work has tended to overlook lesbians.

JEL Classification: J3, J7

Suggested Citation

Black, Dan and Makar, Hoda R. and Sanders, Seth G. and Taylor, Lowell J., The Earnings Effects of Sexual Orientation. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, Vol. 56, No. 3, April 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=398380

Dan Black

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Hoda R. Makar

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

Tydings Hall
College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-314-1049 (Phone)

Seth G. Sanders

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Lowell J. Taylor (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-3278 (Phone)
412-268-7036 (Fax)

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