Article Title

The Earnings Effects of Sexual Orientation


This investigation of the effect of sexual orientation on earnings employs General Social Survey data from 1989–96. Depending largely on the definition of sexual orientation used, earnings are estimated as having been between 14% and 16% lower for gay men than for heterosexual men, and between 20% and 34% higher for lesbian women than for heterosexual women. This evidence, the authors suggest, is consistent with either of two complementary constructions: Gary Becker’s argument that male/female earnings differentials are rooted in specialization within households and in optimal human capital accumulation decisions individuals make when they are young; and Claudia Goldin’s observations about marriage-based gender discrimination, according to which the paternalistic “protection” of wives and mothers from the world of work has tended to overlook lesbians.

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