Sexual Orientation and Earnings: New Evidence from the United Kingdom

Cevat Aksoy, Christopher S Carpenter, Jefferson Frank

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Most prior work on sexual orientation and labor market earnings has relied either on individual level surveys with small samples of sexual minorities or has used large samples of same-sex couples. We use a large individual level dataset from the United Kingdom that allows us to measure both constructs. We replicate the well-documented lesbian advantage and gay male penalty in couples-based comparisons but show that these effects are absent in similarly specified models of non-partnered workers. This suggests both that couples-based samples overstate the true earnings differences attributable to a minority sexual orientation and that household specialization plays an important role in the lesbian earnings advantage. We also show that there is no significant lesbian advantage or gay male penalty in London. Finally, we find robust evidence that bisexual men earn significantly less than otherwise similar heterosexual men. We discuss how the effects reconcile with theories of specialization and discrimination.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberILRR-15-0076
Pages (from-to)242-272
Number of pages31
JournalIndustrial and Labor Relations Review
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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