Self-Reported Sexual Orientation and Earnings: Evidence from California

Posted: 4 Oct 2004

See all articles by Christopher S. Carpenter

Christopher S. Carpenter

Vanderbilt University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Researchers using the 1988-96 General Social Survey (GSS) have found that behaviorally gay/bisexual men earn 15-30% less, and behaviorally lesbian/bisexual women earn 20-30% more, than similar heterosexuals. This study uses confidential data on self-reported sexual orientation for 50,000 adults in California in 2001, providing more than five times as many respondents who identify themselves as sexual minorities as does the GSS. Previous approaches are extended by using more complete data on earnings, work effort, and job characteristics. Apart from the well-documented marriage premium, the author finds no statistically or economically significant independent effect of a gay or lesbian sexual orientation on earnings. There is some evidence that bisexual men and women earn less than heterosexuals. Analysis of more recent GSS data (including data from 1998-2000) suggests the findings of previous studies are somewhat sensitive to the time period considered.

Keywords: sexual orientation, discrimination, earnings, gay men, lesbians

JEL Classification: J71, J15

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Christopher S., Self-Reported Sexual Orientation and Earnings: Evidence from California. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=598867

Christopher S. Carpenter (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/kittcarpenter/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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