Left Out? Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Poverty in the U.S.

Original Research

Abstract

This paper analyzes the risk of poverty for self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people from mid-2013 through 2016 in the National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative survey of households that includes a sexual orientation question based on identity (n = 112,143). The study tests the role of family structure—living with a spouse or partner and having children—on the risk of poverty for LGB and heterosexual respondents. After controlling for education, demographic, and health measures in a probit model, lesbians and gay men are as likely to be poor as similar heterosexuals, but bisexual women and men are significantly more likely to be poor, regardless of relationship status. Single and childless gay men are also more likely to be poor than single heterosexual men. Being in a relationship reduces the likelihood of poverty for people of all sexual orientations, but the data show evidence of a gender composition effect: married male same-sex couples are less likely and unmarried female same-sex couples more likely to be poor than their married counterparts. Marriage reduces gay men’s poverty risk more and children increase their poverty risk less than for heterosexual men.

Keywords

Poverty Family Gender Children Sexual orientation Lesbian Gay Bisexual 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author thanks the Williams Institute at UCLA for financial support, Dr. Sam Abariga for his excellent research assistance, and anonymous referees for suggestions. The author thanks Gary Gates, Bianca Wilson, Alyssa Schneebaum, Christopher Carpenter, Marieka Klawitter, and Brad Sears for their feedback and the audiences at Colorado State University, the University of Minnesota, and Mathematica for comments and suggestions.

References

  1. Albelda, R., Badgett, M. V. L., Gates, G., & Schneebaum, A. (2009). Poverty in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. Los Angeles: Williams Institute, UCLAGoogle Scholar
  2. Antecol, H., Jong, A., & Steinberger, M. (2008). The sexual orientation wage gap: The role of occupational sorting and human capital. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 61(4), 518–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antecol, H., & Steinberger, M. D. (2013). Labor supply differences between married heterosexual women and partnered Lesbians: a semi-parametric decomposition approach. Economic Inquiry, 51(1), 783–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Badgett, M. V. L. (1995). The wage effects of sexual orientation discrimination. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 48(4), 726–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Badgett, M. V. L. (2001). Money, myths, and change: The economic lives of lesbians and gay men. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Badgett, M. V. L. (2010). The economic value of marriage for same-sex couples. Drake Law Review, 58(4), 1081–1116.Google Scholar
  7. Badgett, M. V. L., & Scheebaum, A. (2014). The impact of a higher minimum wage on poverty among same-sex couples. Los Angeles: Williams Institute.Google Scholar
  8. Badgett, M. L., Gates, G. J., & Maisel, N. C. (2008). Registered domestic partnerships among gay men and lesbians: the role of economic factors. Review of Economics of the Household, 6(4), 327–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Badgett, M. V. L., Durso, L., & Schneebaum, A. (2013). New patterns of poverty in the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. Los Angeles: Williams Institute.Google Scholar
  10. Badgett, M. V. L., & Herman, J. L. (2011). Patterns of relationship recognition by same-sex couples in the United States. Los Angeles: Williams Institute.Google Scholar
  11. Badgett, M. V. L., & Schneebaum, A. (2015). The impact of wage equality on sexual orientation poverty gaps. Los Angeles: Williams Institute.Google Scholar
  12. Becker, G. S. (1991). A treatise on the family (Enlarged ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Black, D. A., Sanders, S. G., & Taylor, L. J. (2007). The economics of lesbian and gay families. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 53–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Blank, R. (2008). How to improve poverty measurement in the United States. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 27(2), 233–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bostwick, W. B., Boyd, C. J., Hughes, T. L., & McCabe, S. E. (2009). Dimensions of sexual orientation and the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3), 468–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brown, S. L., Manning, W. D., & Payne, K. K. (2016). Family structure and children’s economic well-being: Incorporating same-sex cohabiting mother families. Population Research and Policy Review, 35(1), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Burwick, A., Gates, G., Baumgartner, S., Friend, D. (2014). Human services for low income and at-risk LGBT populations: An assessment of the knowledge base and research needs. OPRE report number 2014-79. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  18. Carpenter, C. (2005). Self-reported sexual orientation and earnings: Evidence from California. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 58(2), 258–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carpenter, C. (2007). Revisiting the income penalty for behaviorally gay men: Evidence from NHANES III. Labour Economics, 14(1), 25–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Carpenter, C., & Gates, G. J. (2008). Gay and lesbian partnership: Evidence from California. Demography, 45(3), 573–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Center for Community Economic Development. (2013). Measuring up: Aspirations for economic security in the 21st Century. Retrieved August 1, 2017, from http://ww1.insightcced.org/uploads/besa/Insight_MeasuringUp_FullReport_Web.pdf.
  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Behavioral risk factor surveillance system: Overview BRFSS 2014.Google Scholar
  23. Christopher, K., England, P., Smeeding, T. M., & Phillips, K. R. (2002). The gender gap in poverty in modern nations: Single motherhood, the market, and the state. Sociological Perspectives, 45(3), 219–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Conron, K. J., Mimiaga, M. J., & Landers, S. J. (2010). A population-based study of sexual orientation identity and gender differences in adult health. American journal of public health, 100(10), 1953–1960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dahlhamer, J. M., Galinsky, A. M., Joestl, S. S., & Ward, B. W. (2014). Sexual orientation in the 2013 National Health Interview Survey: A quality assessment. Vital and Health Statistics, 2(169), 1–32.Google Scholar
  26. de Linde Leonard, M. L., & Stanley, T. D. (2015). Married with children: What remains when observable biases are removed from the reported male marriage wage premium. Labour Economics, 33, 72–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Edin, K., & Reed, J. M. (2005). Why don’t they just get married? Barriers to marriage among the disadvantaged. The Future of Children, 15(2), 117–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Edwards, A., & Lindstrom, R. (2017). Measuring the presence and impact of same-sex married couples on poverty rates in the Current Population Survey. SEHSD Working Paper No. 2017-01. Retrieved August 2, 2017, from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/working-papers/2017/demo/SEHSD-WP2017-01.pdf.
  29. Flores, A. R., Herman, J. L., Gates, G. J., & Brown, T. N. T. (2016). How many adults identify as transgender in the United States?. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute.Google Scholar
  30. Gates, G. (2013). LGBT parenting in the United States. The Williams Institute. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-Parenting.pdf.
  31. Gates, G. (2015). Demographics of married and unmarried same-sex couples: Analyses of the 2013 American Community Survey. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute, UCLA.Google Scholar
  32. Giddings, L., Nunley, J. M., Schneebaum, A., & Zietz, J. (2014). Birth cohort and the specialization gap between same-sex and different-sex couples. Demography, 51(2), 509–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ginther, D. K., & Zavodny, M. (2001). Is the male marriage premium due to selection? The effect of shotgun weddings on the return to marriage. Journal of Population Economics, 14(2), 313–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Glassman, B. (2016). Selected economic characteristics by state: 2014 and 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2017, from https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/income-poverty/glassman-acs.html.
  35. Goldberg, A.E., Gartrell, N.K., & Gates, G. (2014). Research report on LGB-parent families. Williams Institute, UCLA. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/lgb-parent-families-july-2014.pdf.
  36. Gonzalez, G., Przedworski, J., & Henning-Smith, C. (2016). Comparison of health and health risk factors between lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and heterosexual adults in the United States: Results from the National Health Interview Survey. JAMA Internal Medicine.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3432.Google Scholar
  37. Gorman, B. K., Denney, J. T., Dowdy, H., & Medeiros, R. A. (2015). A new piece of the puzzle: Sexual orientation, gender, and physical health status. Demography, 52, 1357–1382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gould, E., Cooke, T., & Kimball, W. (2015). What families need to get by: EPI’s 2015 family budget calculator. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved August 1, 2017, from http://www.epi.org/files/2015/epi-family-budget-calculator-2015.pdf.
  39. Herek, G. M., Chopp, R., & Strohl, D. (2007). Sexual stigma: Putting sexual minority health issues in context. In I. H. Meyer & M. E. Northridge (Eds.), The health of sexual minorities: Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations (pp. 171–208). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Herek, G. M., Norton, A. T., Allen, T. J., & Sims, C. L. (2010). Demographic, psychological, and social characteristics of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in a US probability sample. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7, 176–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hersch, J., & Stratton, L. S. (2000). Household specialization and the male marriage wage premium. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 54(1), 78–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. IOM (Institute of Medicine). (2011). The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  43. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottel, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.Google Scholar
  44. Jepsen, L. K., & Jepsen, C. A. (2002). Empirical analysis of the matching patterns of same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Demography, 39(3), 435–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Jepsen, C. A., & Jepsen, L. K. (2015). Labor-market specialization within same-sex and difference-sex couples. Industrial Relations, 54(1), 109–130.Google Scholar
  46. Klawitter, M. (2011). Multilevel analysis of the effect of antidiscrimination policies on earnings by sexual orientation. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management., 30(2), 334–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Klawitter, M. (2015). Meta-analysis of the effects of sexual orientation on earnings. Industrial Relations, 54, 4–32.Google Scholar
  48. Korenman, S., & Neumark, D. (1991). Does marriage really make men more productive? Journal of Human Resources, 26, 282–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Light, A. (2004). Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium. Demography, 41(2), 263–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Loh, E. S. (1996) Productivity differences and the marriage wage premium for white males. The Journal of Human Resources 31(3), 566–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Manning, W. D., & Brown, S. (2006). Children’s economic well-being in married and cohabiting parent families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(2), 45–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Manning, W. D., & Lichter, D. T. (1996). Parental cohabitation and children’s economic well-being. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58(4), 998–1010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. McCabe, S. E., Hughes, T. L., Bostwick, W. B., West, B. T., & Boyd, C. J. (2009). Sexual orientation, substance use behaviors and substance dependence in the United States. Addiction, 104, 1333–1345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Meyer, I., & Frost, D. M. (2013). Minority stress and the health of sexual minorities. In C. J. Patterson & A. R. D’Augelli (Eds.), Handbook of psychology and sexual orientation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). (2014). Survey Description, National Health Interview Survey, 2013. Maryland: Hyattsville.Google Scholar
  56. Oreffice, S. (2016). Sexual orientation and marriage. Estudios de Economia Aplicada, 34(1), 7–34.Google Scholar
  57. Pew Research Center. (2013). A survey of LGBT Americans: Attitudes, experiences and values in changing times. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  58. Prokos, A. H., & Keene, J. R. (2010). Poverty among cohabiting gay and lesbian, and married and cohabiting heterosexual families. Journal of Family Issues, 31(7), 934–959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ramos, C., Goldberg, N. G., & Badgett, M. V. L. (2009). The effects of marriage equality in Massachusetts: A survey of the experiences and impact of marriage on same-sex couples. Los Angeles: Williams Institute.Google Scholar
  60. Ross, L. E., O’Gorman, L., MacLeod, M. A., Bauer, G. R., MacKay, J., & Robinson, M. (2016). Bisexuality, poverty and mental health: A mixed methods analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 156, 64–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schiller, B. R. (2004). The economics of poverty and discrimination (9th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  62. Schneebaum, A., & Badgett, M. V. L. (forthcoming). Poverty in lesbian and gay couple households. Feminist Economics.Google Scholar
  63. Smock, P. J., & Manning, W. D. (1997). Cohabiting partners’ economic circumstances and marriage. Demography, 34(3), 331–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tilcsik, A. (2011). Pride and prejudice: Employment discrimination against openly gay men in the United States. American Journal of Sociology, 117(2), 586–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2016). What you should know about EEOC and the enforcement protections for LGBT workers. Retrieved August 11, 2016, from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/enforcement_protections_lgbt_workers.cfm#charges.
  66. Wolf, R. Timeline: Same-sex marriage through the years. USA Today, June 26, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/06/24/same-sex-marriage-timeline/29173703/.
  67. Zavodny, M. (2008). Is there a ‘Marriage premium’ for gay men? Review of Economics of the Household, 6, 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zea, M. C., Reisen, C. A., & Díaz, R. M. (2003). Methodological issues in research on sexual behavior with Latino gay and bisexual men. American Journal of Community Psychology, 31(3–4), 281–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

Personalised recommendations