Declining Segregation of Same-Sex Partners: Evidence from Census 2000 and 2010
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Despite recent media and scholarly attention describing the “disappearance” of traditionally gay neighborhoods, urban scholars have yet to quantify the segregation of same-sex partners and determine whether declining segregation from different-sex partners is a wide-spread trend. Focusing on the 100 most populous places in the United States, I use data from the 2000 and 2010 Decennial Census to examine the segregation of same-sex partners over time and its place-level correlates. I estimate linear regression models to examine the role of four place characteristics in particular: average levels of education, aggregate trends in the family life cycle of same-sex partners, violence and social hostility motivated by sexual orientation bias, and representation of same-sex partners in the overall population. On average, same-sex partners were less segregated from different-sex partners in 2010 than in 2000, and the vast majority of same-sex partners lived in environments of declining segregation. Segregation was lower and declined more rapidly in places that had a greater percentage of graduate degree holders. In addition, segregation of female partners was lower in places that had a greater share of female partner households with children. These findings suggest that sexual orientation should be considered alongside economic status, race, and ethnicity as an important factor that contributes to neighborhood differentiation and urban spatial inequality.
KeywordsResidential segregation Same-sex partners Gay and lesbian population Sexual orientation Neighborhoods
The author acknowledges Stewart Tolnay and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Partial support for this research came from a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development training grant, T32 HD007543, to the Center for Studies in Demography & Ecology at the University of Washington.
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