The Cost of Coming Out

44 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2024

See all articles by Enzo Brox

Enzo Brox

University of Konstanz - Department of Economics

Riccardo Di Francesco

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Department of Economics and Finance

Date Written: April 16, 2024

Abstract

The fear of social stigma and discrimination leads many individuals worldwide to hesitate in openly disclosing their sexual orientation. Due to the large costs of concealing identity, it is crucial to understand the extent of anti-LGB sentiments and reactions to coming out. However, disclosing one’s sexual orientation is a personal choice, complicating data access and introducing endogeneity issues. This paper tackles these challenges by using an innovative data source from a popular online video game together with a natural experiment. We exploit exogenous variation in the identity of a playable character to identify the effects of disclosure on players’ revealed preferences for that character. Leveraging detailed daily data, we monitor players’ preferences for the character across diverse regions globally and employ synthetic control methods to isolate the effect of the disclosure on players’ preferences. Our findings reveal a substantial and persistent negative impact of coming out. To strengthen the plausibility of social stigma as the primary explanation for the estimated effects, we systematically address and eliminate several alternative game-related channels.

Keywords: LGB economics, social stigma, concealable stigma

JEL Classification: J15, J71, K38

Suggested Citation

Brox, Enzo and Di Francesco, Riccardo, The Cost of Coming Out (April 16, 2024). CEIS Working Paper No. 572, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4795932 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4795932

Enzo Brox

University of Konstanz - Department of Economics ( email )

Konstanz, D-78457
Germany

Riccardo Di Francesco (Contact Author)

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Via columbia 2
Rome, Rome 00123
Italy

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