The Myth of Gay & Lesbian Affluence.
THIS report examines several sources of information about the incomes of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, pointing out the serious flaws in some studies and analyzing other more scientifically credible data sources. By contrasting such flawed flaw 1
1. An imperfection, often concealed, that impairs soundness: a flaw in the crystal that caused it to shatter. See Synonyms at blemish.
2. surveys with emerging data from representative groups of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people This is a list of confirmed famous people who were or are bisexual: people who have had sexual relations with, or have expressed sexual attraction to, both sexes. The historical concept and definition of sexual orientation varies and has changed greatly over time. , we will begin to sketch a surprisingly complex economic portrait that undermines the common stereotype stereotype (stĕr`ĕətīp'), plate from which printing is done, made by casting metal in a mold, usually of paper pulp. The process was patented in 1725 by the Scottish inventor William Ged. of gay Americans as an affluent elite. Among this report's findings is the actual diversity of economic life among this population and the reality that lesbians and gay men earn no more than heterosexual people; indeed, in some cases gay men appear to earn less than comparable heterosexual men.
A recent ad run by the National Gay Newspaper Guild The National Gay Newspaper Guild is an organization of LGBT newspapers around the United States of America. Member Publications
Over the last ten years, marketing companies have commissioned a number of studies on gay and lesbian consumers to aid the sale of marketing services such as list rentals and advertising space in gay publications. Two research firms in particular, the Simmons Market Research Bureau and Overlooked Opinions, have conducted surveys that are often cited to show that gay men and lesbians have higher incomes than the average American. A closer look at the work of those firms shows that such general conclusions about the gay community are not warranted by the data.
The Simmons survey is cited most often, thanks to a 1991 article about the survey in The Wall Street Journal (July 18, 1991). A few years earlier, Rivendell Marketing, a company that sells advertising space in gay and lesbian publications, had commissioned Simmons to survey readers of gay magazines and newspapers.
The men and women who responded to the first surveys in 1988 and 1989 had an average annual personal income of $36,000 and a household income of $55,430, far higher than the American mean. A 1992 survey of readers from the six papers in the National Gay Newspaper Guild showed even higher incomes: $41,300 for individuals and $63,700 for households. A more recent Simmons study, conducted in 1996, found that 28 percent of gay people surveyed had personal incomes of over $50,000, and 21 percent were in households with over $100,000 in income ("Affluence of Gay Market Confirmed," PR Newswire This article or section is written like an .
Please help [ rewrite this article] from a neutral point of view.
Mark blatant advertising for , using . , Feb. 3, 1997). The latter study, which was conducted with the Mulryan/Nash advertising agency, drew respondents from the mailing lists An automated e-mail system on the Internet, which is maintained by subject matter. There are thousands of such lists that reach millions of individuals and businesses. New users generally subscribe by sending an e-mail with the word "subscribe" in it and subsequently receive all new of a political organization, a mail order catalog catalog, descriptive list, on cards or in a book, of the contents of a library. Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh was cataloged on shelves of slate. The first known subject catalog was compiled by Callimachus at the Alexandrian Library in the 3d cent. B.C. , and a credit card company.
Overlooked Opinions, a now defunct DEFUNCT. A term used for one that is deceased or dead. In some acts of assembly in Pennsylvania, such deceased person is called a decedent. (q.v.) marketing organization, compiled a list of lesbian and gay people from sign-up sheets at events, such as the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, and from other sources, such as bars or bookstores. Periodically they conducted a survey of a sample of people on their list, and those individuals were also found to have higher-than-average incomes. In a 1991 survey, gay men had an average income of $42,689 and lesbians of $36,072.
These findings are still taken widely for granted today. For companies attempting to identify new target markets--to the extent that they're seeking ways to reach relatively affluent people, such as readers of magazines--these surveys remain perfectly adequate. Similarly, companies marketing to more affluent gay people can target them using these mailing lists. But almost any other use of these data would be misleading. Neither organization conducts its surveys in a way that allows its findings to be generalized to all gay and lesbian Americans. We know from other research that readers of newspapers and magazines are significantly better educated and more affluent than the average adult in the U.S. For instance, male readers of USA Today USA Today
National U.S. daily general-interest newspaper, the first of its kind. Launched in 1982 by Allen Neuharth, head of the Gannett newspaper chain, it reached a circulation of one million within a year and surpassed two million in the 1990s. earned $29,428 in 1989 and male readers of The Wall Street Journal earned $42,040, but both groups earned much more than the average individual male income of $19,893. So it's not surprising that the gay men and lesbians surveyed from samples of magazine readers have higher-t han-average incomes compared to all Americans, but this does not translate into higher average incomes for gay and lesbian people in general. By the same token, a sample of people obtained from a march on Washington is anything but representative of the whole gay and lesbian population, since not everyone can afford to attend such an event.
Toward a Truer Picture
Needed for a more accurate picture of gay and lesbian affluence would be a survey whose respondents were drawn from a more truly representative sample of the GLBT GLBT Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered population in the U.S. Unfortunately, none of the large-scale population surveys conducted by federal agencies, such as the Census of Population or the Current Population Survey, directly asks respondents about their sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. . However, the Census allows for some self-identification, while some random samples of the U.S. population have at times asked questions that allow us to identify at least some parts of the GLBT population. This report is based on data collected from seven studies. (A brief synopsis A summary; a brief statement, less than the whole.
A synopsis is a condensation of something—for example, a synopsis of a trial record. of each is provided in the sidebar (1) A Windows Vista desktop panel that holds mini applications (gadgets) such as a calendar, calculator, stock ticker and Vonage phone dialer. It is the Windows counterpart to the Dashboard in the Mac. See Windows Vista and gadget. .) Three of these studies collected information on individual incomes: the General Social Survey (GSS (storage) GSS - Group-Sweeping Scheduling. ), the 1990 Census, and the Yankelovich Monitor.
A pattern emerges across the three surveys for both men and women. The average lesbian or gay man earns no more than the average heterosexual woman or man, and in some cases, gay people earn less on average. Figures 1 and 2 summarize sum·ma·rize
intr. & tr.v. sum·ma·rized, sum·ma·riz·ing, sum·ma·riz·es
To make a summary or make a summary of.
sum the averages from the two studies. The average gay man earns from 4 percent to 7 percent less than the average heterosexual man. The average lesbian earns less in the GSS and roughly the same income as heterosexual women in the Yankelovich Monitor. However, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Census, the average woman with a female partner earns more than the average heterosexual woman does. Looking more closely, that apparent income advantage disappears once we take into account the fact that lesbians work more hours per week and more weeks per year than the average heterosexual woman.
A more sophisticated comparison of gay, lesbian, and bisexual bisexual /bi·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al)
1. pertaining to or characterized by bisexuality.
2. an individual exhibiting bisexuality.
3. pertaining to or characterized by hermaphroditism.
4. individuals' incomes with heterosexuals' incomes involves taking other important factors into account, such as education, geographical location, occupation, experience, and race. Two recent studies have applied this statistical procedure (known as multiple regression Multiple regression
The estimated relationship between a dependent variable and more than one explanatory variable. ) to the General Social Survey and the 1990 Census. M. V. Lee Badgett's 1995 analysis of the GSS found that gay men who worked full-time earned as much as 27 percent less than comparable heterosexual men. Lesbians who worked full-time earned roughly the same as heterosexual women. Marieka Klawitter and Victor Flatt's study (1998) of the Census data found very similar results. Men with male partners earned 26 percent less than did married men with the same education, location, race, age, number of children, and disability status. But, as in the GSS, women with female partners showed no difference in earnings compared to heterosexual women once the other factors are taken into account. Th e findings for gay men strongly suggest the influence of workplace discrimination.
The Special Case of "Household" Income Even though gay men might face an earnings disadvantage as individuals and lesbians might experience no consistent earnings advantage, it might be argued that two gay men or two lesbians could still have more discretionary income Discretionary Income
The amount of an individual's income available for spending after the essentials have been taken care of.
Essentials are things like food, clothing, and shelter. than a heterosexual couple. The stereotype of gay or lesbian couples as "DINKs" ("dual-income-no-kids") involves two assumptions: first, that same-sex couples A same-sex couple is a pair of people of the same gender who pursue a romantic or sexual relationship together.
The term "same-sex relationship" may be used when the sexual orientation of participants in a same-sex relationship is not known. will have higher incomes than married couples; and second, that lesbians and gay men have no children. The first assumption is thoroughly contradicted by the data.
Five of the scientifically sound surveys of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual people offer information on family or household incomes. Figure 3 shows the 1990 Census and Yankelovich results. Some of the surveys, represented in Figure 4, asked respondents to indicate which of several income categories their household income fell into, so averages cannot be compared directly a man's income, so we would expect the average household income of a female couple to be less than the income of a typical male-female couple, while two average men sharing a household would have an even higher income because of this gender effect. Klawitter and Flatt (1998) further analyzed the differences in household income, controlling for the couple's geographical location, education, age, race, sex, and other relevant variables. Once these factors were taken into account, married couple households and male same-sex couple households had roughly equal household incomes, while female same-sex couples brought home 18 to 20 percent less income than a similar married couple.
The remaining four survey sources tell much the same story. In each case, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are spread throughout the range of household income distribution for all householders. Far from being concentrated at the high income end, a significant number of gay people are clustered at the lower end of the distribution. (However, this could be the result of different household sizes for heterosexual and gay households.)
Finally, as with myths on income, the myth that gay and lesbian people do not have children to care for, making them those idealized i·de·al·ize
v. i·de·al·ized, i·de·al·iz·ing, i·de·al·iz·es
1. To regard as ideal.
2. To make or envision as ideal.
1. DINKs that marketers love, is called into doubt by two of the surveys discussed here. In the 1992 Voter News Service The Voter News Service was a consortium whose mission was to provide results for United States Presidential elections, so that individual organizations and networks would not have to do exit polling and vote tallying in parallel. (VNS VNS Visiting Nurse Service
VNS Voter News Service
VNS Vagus Nerve Stimulator
VNS Virtual Network Switching
VNS Vagal Nerve Stimulator
VNS Victim Notification System
VNS Virtual Network System
VNS Varanasi, India - Babatpur (Airport Code) ) voter exit poll, 31 percent of lesbians compared to 37 percent of heterosexual women had children under 18 living at home, as did 23 percent of gay men and 33 percent of heterosexual men. In the CARDIA (1992-93) Lake Research Inc. / HRC HRC Human Rights Campaign
HRC Human Rights Council (UN)
HRC Human Rights Commission
HRC Hard Rock Cafe
HRC Hillary Rodham Clinton (democratic senator/presidential candidate; former first lady) Yankelovich Monitor, 67 percent of lesbians and 72 percent of heterosexual women were parents; 32 percent of lesbians and 36 percent of heterosexual women had children under 18 in the household. Roughly half as many gay as heterosexual men were either parents (27 percent of gay men and 60 percent of heterosexual men) or had children under 18 in their households (15 percent of gay men and 28 percent of heterosexual men), however. The surveys do not allow us to tell whether the children in gay or lesbian respondents' households were from prior heterosexual relationships, were adopted or co-parented by the respondents, or were conceived through alternative insemination insemination /in·sem·i·na·tion/ (-sem?i-na´shun) the deposit of seminal fluid within the vagina or cervix.
artificial insemination (AI) that done by artificial means. . Regardless, the presence of children is clearly common in lesbian and gay households, suggesting that lesbians and gay men have economic responsibilities for children.
How to Count Americans Who Aren't Out?
Gay Americans have long been a hard to measure population, hidden as they often are by fear, discrimination, and secrecy. It is not, therefore, surprising that one concern likely to emerge about these surveys is their accuracy in identifying lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. The measurement and survey issues are certainly tricky, since one might expect that many people would be reluctant to identify themselves as gay to a stranger on the phone, at their front door, or outside a voting booth. For the purposes of income comparisons, a failure to answer accurately will not present a problem unless levels of disclosure are related to levels of income. For instance, if people with lower incomes are less likely to report that they are gay, then the average income for this group reporting their sexual orientation will be higher than it is for this group as a whole. If, instead, higher income gay people do not disclose their sexual orientation, then the average we see on a survey will be lower than that of the true gay population.
A second issue is that different people will define what it means to be "gay" or "lesbian" or "bisexual" differently. For some, being gay means having sexual partners of the same sex, while others might say that they are gay because they live and socialize so·cial·ize
v. so·cial·ized, so·cial·iz·ing, so·cial·iz·es
1. To place under government or group ownership or control.
2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable. with mostly gay people and are active in life in the gay community. Other possible definitions exist, as well.
Fortunately, these two issues do not pose a serious problem in the conclusions drawn in this paper about the economic position of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. The surveys reviewed here use a variety of definitions for lesbian, gay, or bisexual people including self-identification, sexual behavior sexual behavior A person's sexual practices–ie, whether he/she engages in heterosexual or homosexual activity. See Sex life, Sexual life. , and social behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. (having a same-sex unmarried partner) and all reach similar conclusions. Further, all but one of the surveys reviewed here were designed to allow respondents to indicate their sexual orientation without having to come out directly to an interviewer. These two factors should minimize concerns about survey confidentiality and definitions.
We also do not know whether or how income affects gay people's willingness to disclose their sexual orientation. Individuals with higher income might have more to lose if they experience discrimination as a result of disclosure, but they may also have the resources to avoid serious harm. If gay people with lower incomes are less willing to reveal their sexual orientation, this would artificially boost the average incomeof those who are sampled.
For all these caveats, one is struck by the robustness of the central finding, the consistency of results from several studies despite their differing definitions and sampling methods. And what they show is that, on balance, GLBT people do not earn more as individuals than heterosexual people do, and they do not live in more affluent households. Two studies suggest that gay men earn less than similarly qualified heterosexual men. But what all these studies show is that GLBT people are distributed throughout the spectrum of income distribution for all Americans. Given this consistency, it's puzzling that people continue to rely on misleading marketing statistics, especially when the methods are now available to produce a broadly reliable picture of gay and lesbian affluence relative to the American populace as a whole.
M. V. Lee Badgett teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts The system includes UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth (affiliated with Cape Cod Community College), UMass Lowell, and the UMass Medical School. It also has an online school called UMassOnline. at Amherst. She is also the Director of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies.
Klawitter, Marieka M. and Victor Flatt. "The Effects of State and Local Antidiscrimination Policies for Sexual Orientation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 17, No.4, Fall 1998.
Badgett, M.V. Lee. "The Wage Effects of Sexual Orientation discrimination," Industrial and Labor Relations Review Industrial and Labor Relations Review is a publication of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. It is an interdisciplinary journal publishing original research on all aspects of labor relations. , Vol. 48, No. 4, July 1995.
Badgett, M.V. Lee. "Vulnerability in the Workplace: Evidence of Anti-Gay Discrimination," Angles: The Policy Journal of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, September 1997.
Sources of Survey Data Cited in Charts
1990 U.S. Census of Population
The Census is a self-administered questionnaire sent every ten years to each household in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . A self-designated "householder" is the reference person for all other household members. In 1990, the Census allowed a household member to be designated as an "unmarried partner" of the householder, so people with same-sex partners same-sex partner Social medicine A domestic partner of the same genotypic sex. See Homosexual. are identifiable. However, single lesbians and gay men and those who do not live with their partners are still not identifiable. The questionnaires are not anonymous, but information is recoded and location variables are highly aggregated so that the Census Bureau Noun 1. Census Bureau - the bureau of the Commerce Department responsible for taking the census; provides demographic information and analyses about the population of the United States
Bureau of the Census can provide publicly available random samples that ensure the confidentiality of the individual identities. Researchers Marieka Klawitter and Victor Flatt's analysis of the 1990 data was used in this report. Only 0.18 percent of households contained same-sex unmarried partners, and Klawitter and Flatt used a sample of roughly 13,000 married couples and 6,800 same-sex couples. The income reported was for 1989.
The General Social Survey
The General Social Survey (GSS) is an annual survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC NORC National Opinion Research Center
NORC Naturally Occurring Retirement Community
NORC National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago
NORC Naval Ordnance Research Calculator
NORC North Oakland Republican Club (Waterford, MI) ) that, in 1989, began including questions on the sex of respondents' sexual partners since their eighteenth birthday. The questions on sexual behavior are asked on a self-administered questionnaire that is returned to the interviewer in a sealed envelope. Sexual orientation can be measured by identifying people with same-sex sexual partners. The author of this paper pooled the data from 1989 to 1991 and analyzed the 1,680 full-time workers in that subsample sub·sam·ple
A sample drawn from a larger sample.
tr.v. sub·sam·pled, sub·sam·pling, sub·sam·ples
To take a subsample from (a larger sample). . Of this group, 4.8 percent reported having had at least one same-sex sexual partner, and 3.0 percent reported at least as many same-sex as opposite sex partners.
This is an annual, face-to-face survey of attitudes and demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data. . In 1993, Yankelovich Partners included a new option in a list of descriptions under the heading, "Which of the following words or phrases describe you?" Respondents were given a card with a list of such words and phrases Words and Phrases®
A multivolume set of law books published by West Group containing thousands of judicial definitions of words and phrases, arranged alphabetically, from 1658 to the present. . The thirty-third possibility was "gay / homosexual / lesbian," which was preceded by "a pleasure seeker Noun 1. pleasure seeker - someone motivated by desires for sensual pleasures
sensualist - a person who enjoys sensuality
Corinthian, man-about-town, playboy - a man devoted to the pursuit of pleasure " and "tense" and followed by "religious" and "witty." Respondents were asked to call out the numbers corresponding to the descriptors, and the interviewers recorded the numbers. The total sample in 1993 was 2,503 respondents, including 65 gay men (5.2 percent of all men) and 83 lesbians (6.6 percent of all women). Marketing analyst Grant Lukenbill reported the summary statistics from a report prepared by Yankelovich Partners.
Lake Research / Human Rights Campaign
ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition or Image Character Recognition) The machine recognition of hand-printed characters as well as machine printing that is difficult to recognize. Survey Research Group conducted a series of polls in 1996 for Lake Research, Inc. and the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay political organization. Using random-digit dialing, ICR interviewed 28,282 individuals who were asked, among other things, "Are you yourself (for males) gay or bisexual / (for females) a lesbian or bisexual?" Of those surveyed over three months, 354 individuals identified themselves as gay, bisexual, or lesbian (1.3 percent of those interviewed). Gay respondents were asked about their attitudes and opinions on several issues, and basic demographic data, including pretax pre·tax
Existing before tax deductions: pretax income.
pretax adj [profit] → vor (Abzug der) Steuern household income, were collected.
Coronary Artery coronary artery
1. An artery with origin in the right aortic sinus; with distribution to the right side of the heart in the coronary sulcus, and with branches to the right atrium and ventricle, including the atrioventricular branches and Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA)
The CARDIA study is a longitudinal epidemiological study An Epidemiological study is a statistical study on human populations, which attempts to link human health effects to a specified cause. of young black and white men and women conducted since 1985. Respondents were chosen randomly in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Birmingham (Alabama), and from the membership of a large health plan in Oakland, California “Oakland” redirects here. For other uses, see Oakland (disambiguation).
Oakland (IPA: /ˈoʊklənd/), founded in 1852, is the eighth-largest city in the U.S. . In 1989 researchers sent participants a self-administered questionnaire on HIV-related issues, and included questions on lifetime numbers of sex partners, both same-sex and opposite-sex. The survey data were matched with data from respondents' health exams by public health researchers Nancy Krieger and Stephen Sidney between 1992 and 1993. Overall, 12 percent of the 1,724 respondents (11 percent of women and 13 percent of men) reported at least one same-sex sexual partner.
Voter News Service Exit Poll
The Voter News Service data were collected from a sample of at least 300 different voting places on election day in 1996. Trained interviewers distributed surveys to a random sample of individuals leaving the polls. The questionnaire was self administered, and respondents returned the surveys to a box. In 1992, the questions asked included, "Do Any of the Following Apply to You?" followed by a list of characteristics, including "gay / lesbian / bisexual." Respondents could check a box for either "yes" or "no," but non-responses were coded as "no." In 1996, the question was asked separately: "Are you) Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual?: Yes or no." Although voters tend to have higher levels of education and income than non-voters, that effect should be similar for gay and heterosexual voters, making comparisons useful.
The 1992 income data reported here are based on an analysis of the data by Murray Edelman Murray J. Edelman (1919 – January 26, 2001) was an American political scientist known for his research on symbolic politics and political psychology. Career
Edelman received a bachelor's degree in social sciences from Bucknell University in 1941 of Voter Research and Surveys, and the 1996 data come from unpublished tabulations by Rutgers University Rutgers University, main campus at New Brunswick, N.J.; land-grant and state supported; coeducational except for Douglass College; chartered 1766 as Queen's College, opened 1771. Campuses and Facilities
Rutgers maintains three campuses. political scientist Robert W. Bailey. In 1992 the combined national and California and New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of surveys yielded a sample of 260 gay men (3.3 percent of all male voters) and 206 lesbians (2.3 percent of female voters), In 1996, the sexual orientation question appeared on fewer surveys and only 196 individuals identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.