IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sexual orientation discrimination in hiring



Little research has been done to examine discrimination against gays and lesbians in the labor market. Badgett (1995) conducted the only previous study investigating labor market outcomes of gays and lesbians using a random data set. However, due to the structure of the data, the wage differential between heterosexuals and gays and lesbians that is found can not be directly assigned to employer discrimination. Some gays and lesbians might deploy passing strategies to hide their sexual orientation on the workplace which lower their productivity. Consequently, the measured wage differential is a conglomerate of employer discrimination against "out" workers and lower productivity of those employees trying to conceal their sexual orientation. To investigate whether lesbians’ unfavorable labor market outcomes are due to discrimination or result from passing strategies, a labor market experiment is conducted. Job applications of candidates, who are equivalent in their human capital but differ in their sexual orientation are sent out in response to job advertisements. Furthermore, since it has been suggested that gender non-conformity is one of the reasons why lesbians are disliked, the applicants differ in their perceived gender identity. While results show a strong negative effect for lesbian orientation, gender identity does not have a significant overall impact on hiring chances.

Suggested Citation

  • Doris Weichselbaumer, 2000. "Sexual orientation discrimination in hiring," Economics working papers 2000-21, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2000_21

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter A. Riach & Judith Rich, 1995. "An Investigation of Gender Discrimination in Labor Hiring," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 343-356, Summer.
    2. Riach, Peter A & Rich, Judith, 1991. "Testing for Racial Discrimination in the Labour Market," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 239-256, September.
    3. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
    4. Jerry M. Newman, 1978. "Discrimination in Recruitment: An Empirical Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 32(1), pages 15-23, October.
    5. 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.
    6. Dan Black & Gary Gates & Seth Sanders & Lowell Taylor, 2000. "Demographics of the gay and lesbian population in the United States: Evidence from available systematic data sources," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(2), pages 139-154, May.
    7. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
    8. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
    9. 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.
    10. Jeffrey S. Gray, 1997. "The Fall in Men's Return to Marriage: Declining Productivity Effects or Changing Selection?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 481-504.
    11. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    12. Michael Firth, 1981. "Racial Discrimination in the British Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(2), pages 265-272, January.
    13. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1998. "Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 172-201, January.
    14. John M. Blandford, "undated". "Evidence of the Role of Sexual Orientation in the Determination of Earnings Outcomes," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 2000-01, Chicago - Population Research Center.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    sex-discrimination; experimental economics; sexual orientation;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing


    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:jku:econwp:2000_21. 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: (René Böheim). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.