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The disappearing gay income penalty


  • Clarke, Geoffrey
  • Sevak, Purvi


Since 1995, labor economists have reported on the income disparities between individuals who engage in same-sex behavior and those that do not. Many of these papers report a significant wage penalty, while others find no effect, but few look at the trend over time. We find, using National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1988 to 2007, that the income gap has reversed over time from a penalty to a premium.

Suggested Citation

  • Clarke, Geoffrey & Sevak, Purvi, 2013. "The disappearing gay income penalty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 542-545.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:121:y:2013:i:3:p:542-545 DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2013.10.018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carpenter, Christopher S., 2007. "Revisiting the income penalty for behaviorally gay men: Evidence from NHANES III," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 25-34, January.
    2. Madeline Zavodny, 2008. "Is there a ‘marriage premium’ for gay men?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 369-389, December.
    3. Marieka Klawitter, 2011. "Multilevel analysis of the effects of antidiscrimination policies on earnings by sexual orientation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(2), pages 334-358, March.
    4. M. V. Lee Badgett, 1995. "The Wage Effects of Sexual Orientation Discrimination," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 726-739, July.
    5. Michael E Martell, 2013. "Differences Do Not Matter: Exploring the Wage Gap for Same-Sex Behaving Men," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 45-71.
    6. Suzanne Heller Clain & Karen Leppel, 2001. "An investigation into sexual orientation discrimination as an explanation for wage differences," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 37-47.
    7. Brendan Cushing-Daniels & Tsz-Ying Yeung, 2009. "Wage Penalties And Sexual Orientation: An Update Using The General Social Survey," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(2), pages 164-175, April.
    8. Nathan Berg & Donald Lien, 2002. "Measuring The Effect Of Sexual Orientation On Income: Evidence Of Discrimination?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(4), pages 394-414, October.
    9. Michael Martell, 2013. "Do ENDAs End Discrimination for Behaviorally Gay Men?," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 147-169, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mary Eschelbach Hansen & Michael E. Martell, 2014. "Self-Identified Sexual Orientation and the Lesbian Earnings Differential," Working Papers 2014-13, American University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Sexual orientation; Income; Diminishing gap;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination


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