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The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Antigay Sentiment Are Substantially Underestimated

Author

Listed:
  • Katherine B. Coffman

    (Department of Economics, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210)

  • Lucas C. Coffman

    (Department of Economics, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210)

  • Keith M. Marzilli Ericson

    (Questrom School of Business, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215; and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

Abstract

We demonstrate that widely used measures of antigay sentiment and the size of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population are misestimated, likely substantially. In a series of online experiments using a large and diverse but nonrepresentative sample, we compare estimates from the standard methodology of asking sensitive questions to measures from a “veiled” methodology that precludes inference about an individual but provides population estimates. The veiled method increased self-reports of antigay sentiment, particularly in the workplace: respondents were 67% more likely to disapprove of an openly gay manager when asked with a veil, and 71% more likely to say it should be legal to discriminate in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation. The veiled methodology also produces larger estimates of the fraction of the population that identifies as LGBT or has had a sexual experience with a member of the same sex. Self-reports of nonheterosexual identity rose by 65%, and same-sex sexual experiences by 59%. We conduct a “placebo test” and show that for nonsensitive placebo items, the veiled methodology produces effects that are small in magnitude and not significantly different from zero in seven out of eight items. Taken together, the results suggest antigay discrimination might be a more significant issue than formerly considered, as the nonheterosexual population and antigay workplace-related sentiment are both larger than previously measured.

Suggested Citation

  • Katherine B. Coffman & Lucas C. Coffman & Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, 2017. "The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Antigay Sentiment Are Substantially Underestimated," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(10), pages 3168-3186, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:63:y:2017:i:10:p:3168-3186
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2016.2503
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    8. Julio J. Elias & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis, 2015. "Sacred Values? The Effect of Information on Attitudes toward Payments for Human Organs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 361-365, May.
    9. Botti, Fabrizio & Conte, Anna & D'Ippoliti, Carlo, 2015. "Not so classy after all: Identity utility and the risk of discrimination of LGB people," MPRA Paper 65125, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario & Mele, Angelo, 2014. "Viral Altruism? Generosity and Social Contagion in Online Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 8171, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Elisabetta de Cao & Clemens Lutz, 2015. "Measuring attitudes regarding female genital mutilation through a list experiment," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-20, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    12. James N. Druckman & Mauro Gilli & Samara Klar & Joshua Robison, 2015. "Measuring Drug and Alcohol Use Among College Student-Athletes," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(2), pages 369-380, June.
    13. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo, 2016. "Field Experiments on Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 22014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Blume, Andreas & Lai, Ernest K. & Lim, Wooyoung, 2019. "Eliciting private information with noise: The case of randomized response," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 356-380.
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    17. Jorge M. Agüero & Veronica Frisancho, 2020. "Measuring Violence Against Women with Experimental Methods," Working papers 2020-14, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    18. Bharadwaj, Prashant & Pai, Mallesh M. & Suziedelyte, Agne, 2017. "Mental health stigma," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 57-60.
    19. Leonardo Bursztyn & Michael Callen & Bruno Ferman & Saad Gulzar & Ali Hasanain & Noam Yuchtman, 2014. "Identifying Ideology: Experimental Evidence on Anti-Americanism in Pakistan," NBER Working Papers 20153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus & Sandip Sukhtankar, 2016. "Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 2895-2929, October.
    21. Lergetporer, Philipp & Piopiunik, Marc & Simon, Lisa, 2021. "Does the education level of refugees affect natives’ attitudes?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    economics; behavior and decision making; surveying; LGBT; labor;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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