, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 509–534 | Cite as

Birth Cohort and the Specialization Gap Between Same-Sex and Different-Sex Couples

  • Lisa Giddings
  • John M. NunleyEmail author
  • Alyssa Schneebaum
  • Joachim Zietz


We examine differences in household specialization between same-sex and different-sex couples within and across three birth cohorts: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Using three measures of household specialization, we find that same-sex couples are less likely than their different-sex counterparts to exhibit a high degree of specialization. However, the “specialization gap” between same-sex and different-sex couples narrows across birth cohorts. These findings are indicative of a cohort effect. Our results are largely robust to the inclusion of a control for the presence of children and for subsets of couples with and without children. We provide three potential explanations for why the specialization gap narrows across cohorts. First, different-sex couples from more recent birth cohorts may have become more like same-sex couples in terms of household specialization. Second, social and legal changes may have prompted a greater degree of specialization within same-sex couples relative to different-sex couples. Last, the advent of reproductive technologies, which made having children easier for same-sex couples from more recent birth cohorts, could result in more specialization in such couples relative to different-sex couples.


Household specialization Division of labor Gay and lesbian couples Birth cohort Children 



We thank M.V. Lee Badgett, Taggert J. Brooks, R. Alan Seals, Stuart Tolnay, seminar participants at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and the American Economic Association annual meeting, and four anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Online Resource 1 (PDF 114 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Giddings
    • 1
  • John M. Nunley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alyssa Schneebaum
    • 2
  • Joachim Zietz
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Wisconsin–La CrosseLa CrosseUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Massachusetts–AmherstAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Department of Economics and FinanceMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  4. 4.J. Zietz EBS Business SchoolEBS Universität für Wirtschaft und RechtWiesbadenGermany

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