IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Sexual Orientation Wage Gap: The Role of Occupational Sorting, Human Capital, and Discrimination


  • Antecol, Heather

    () (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Jong, Anneke

    (affiliation not available)

  • Steinberger, Michael D.

    () (Pomona College)


Using data from the 2000 U.S. Census, we document and explore three alternative explanations for the sexual orientation wage gap: occupational sorting, human capital differences, and discrimination. We find lesbian women earn more than their heterosexual counterparts irrespective of marital status while gay men earn less than their married heterosexual counterparts but more than their cohabitating heterosexual counterparts. Using a Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition we find that differences in human capital accumulation (particularly education) are the main reason behind the observed wage advantages, while discrimination and occupational sorting play a minimal role at best. Wage penalties, on the other hand, are largely explained by discrimination. Interestingly, while we do find there are some differences in the relative roles of our three alternative explanations across the wage distribution using a DiNardo, Fortin, Lemieux decomposition, the main conclusions from the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition persist.

Suggested Citation

  • Antecol, Heather & Jong, Anneke & Steinberger, Michael D., 2007. "The Sexual Orientation Wage Gap: The Role of Occupational Sorting, Human Capital, and Discrimination," IZA Discussion Papers 2945, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2945

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Bauer & Mathias Sinning, 2011. "The savings behavior of temporary and permanent migrants in Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(2), pages 421-449, April.
    2. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
    3. Galor, Oded & Stark, Oded, 1990. "Migrants' Savings, the Probability of Return Migration and Migrants' Performance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(2), pages 463-467, May.
    4. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    5. Christopher D. Carroll & Byung-Kun Rhee & Changyong Rhee, 1994. "Are There Cultural Effects on Saving? Some Cross-Sectional Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 685-699.
    6. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Susan Pozo, 2002. "Precautionary Saving by Young Immigrants and Young Natives," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 48-71, July.
    7. Dustmann, Christian, 1997. "Return migration, uncertainty and precautionary savings," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 295-316, April.
    8. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
    9. Merkle, Lucie & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1992. "Savings, remittances, and return migration," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 77-81, January.
    10. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Susan Pozo, 2006. "Remittances as insurance: evidence from Mexican immigrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(2), pages 227-254, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    human capital; occupational sorting; sexual orientation wage gap; discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2945. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.