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Employers Would Rather Harm Gays Than Make Money?
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A study by Bruce Elmslie and Edinaldo Tebaldi is being reported as evidence of irrational discrimination against gay men in the American workplace:

According to the authors, gay men who live together earn 23 percent less than married men, and 9 percent less than unmarried heterosexual men who live with a woman.

Lesbians, however, apparently do better than straight women:

The authors also found that lesbians are not discriminated against when compared with heterosexual women.

They conclude that while negative attitudes toward lesbians could affect them, lesbians may benefit from the perception that they are more career-focused and less likely to leave the labor market to raise children than heterosexual women.

Unless there was found to be no difference at all between the respective earnings of the two groups, this almost certainly indicates that lesbians earn more than heterosexual women do. Stating that lesbians are given preferential treatment, or that straight women are discriminated against, however, does not make sense as traditional or mainstream groups are incapable of being treated unfairly!

The actual paper isn’t yet freely accessible. Still, there are a few reasons to suspect that the insinuation that such discrimination is based on a disgust with homosexuality (that in a free market system companies would rather stick it to gays than turn as handomse a profit as possible) is inaccurate.

According to a paper released last year by the same two researchers, gay men work fewer hours than their heterosexual counterparts:

It is found that gay men supply less labour than married and unmarried heterosexual men. With regard to women, it is found that lesbians supply more labour and are more likely to be employed full-time than either married or unmarried heterosexual women.

The researchers based their latest study on 91,000 couples from The American Community survey that the US Census conducts each non-decadal year. There is no way to determine hourly wages from the survey, which inquires only about annual income.

So, unsurprisingly, straight men, in working the most hours, also receive the fattest paychecks. Lesbians, who work more than heterosexual women, show a larger number in the first box of their W-2s.

Why this pattern? In a traditional couple, the man tends to be the primary income earner, and the family follows his career.

That alone pretty much sums it up. In a two-male couple, if the duo dedicates itself to one of the member’s careers, just as a traditional couple would, the other member (like most married women) will generally earn less than the one who has the primary career. For lesbian couples, a similar pattern occurs. Thus, the male-female earnings discrepancy among heterosexual couples pushes the average earnings of the two indistinguishable gay partners somewhere in between.

Consider a simple hypothetical to see how this is explanatory. We have three couples (or 30,000, as it were), the Straights, the Gays, and the Lesbians. Guy Straight earns $50,000 a year, while Lady Straight, as the primary homemaker, works part-time around their other obligations to make $25,000 a year. Man Gay earns $50,000, while Guy Gay, like Lady Straight, makes $25,000. Woman Lesbian earns $50,000, and again, like her other two relational counterparts, Gal Lesbian makes $25,000.

Each couple, as a unit, earns $75,000 a year. Yet for the researchers, discrimination against gay men is found to be striking! Heterosexual men are making $50,000 on average, while gay men are only making $37,500. Lesbians, however, at $37,500, are doing fine relative to their heterosexual counterparts, who are only bringing home $25,000.

The need to distinguish between a working person and a primary breadwinner is enough to cast doubt on the entire study. As an entire household, gay men are rolling in it:

A Chicago market-research company, Overlooked Opinions Inc., recently released a demographic survey that found that gay men had an average household income of $51,325 and lesbians $45,927, compared with the national average of $36,520. …

The major findings of the Overlooked Opinions survey — that homosexuals tend to be more affluent and better educated; about 60 percent have college degrees, compared with 20 percent of the general population — were similar to those in a readership study of eight gay newspapers done in 1988 by Simmons Market Research Bureau in New York.

As individual members of a two-person unit, gay men and lesbians are, on average, going to trend toward the center when it comes to individual earnings (especially if the focus is exclusively on people who are living with a romantic partner, as in the case of this study), as they are filling both the breadwinning and homemaking roles in exactly equal proportion. Unless the two members of a gay couple are given identifiers comparable to ‘male’ and ‘female’ in heterosexual relationships, this necessarily must be the case.

So heterosexual men come out on top, followed by gay men, then lesbians, and finally straight women. Yet disproportionately ‘dinks‘ (dual-income, no kids), the gay demographic is one that has lots of disposable income.

But there are other reasons that have nothing to do with irrational discrimination, but instead with market forces in action:

Gay men working in management and traditional blue-collar, male-dominated jobs make less than straight men because they are discriminated against by their employers, according to new research released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

Gay men tend to be less masculine than straight men. Jobs that put a premium on virility (construction, factory work, law enforcement, etc) are going to be jobs that more virile men succeed in, all else being equal. Management is often comprised of people who started at the entry-level, and therefore of people who were good at the fundamentals of the work.

Although no mention has been made in the press about the study, I’d be willing to bet the lesbian advantage over heterosexual women is larger in these same fields than in more traditionally female-dominated positions (secretary, receptionist, etc).

For lesbians, another enormous advantage is the lack of child-rearing commitments relative to heterosexual women. To its credit, the study does make note of this:

According to their study, 18.1 percent of lesbians have children, compared with 49.4 percent of straight women.

Many companies now offer additional days off to parents contingent upon the number of children they have. Obligations to children interfere with the ability to work varying hours, put in overtime, etc. When a couple has (or obtains) a baby, one member usually must interrupt the career pursuit, especially for the first few years of the child’s existence. In heterosexual couples, of course, that task virtually always falls to the woman (about 4% of married men who do not work have spouses who do). In contrast, for the purposes of the study, it doesn’t matter which lesbian partner decides to take the lead role in child-rearing, to the ‘benefit’ of average lesbian earnings.

The study’s authors almost exclusively emphasize irrational discrimination as the reason for the earnings discrepancy. Even to the extent that this is occuring–the reasons to be skeptical laid out above being set aside for a moment–it is probably more accurate to surmise that it is the personal traits and behaviors of gay men, not their sexual orientation per se, that is causing the discrimination. Prudent people do not talk about their sexual lives in a business setting, whatever their particular predilection.

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. In general, I think that your analysis is probably accurate. However, I am not so sure about irrational discrimination being unprofitable, and therefore very rare. It is called the agency problem The people who make decisions for a corporation are not those who get the profits or suffer the losses from their decisions. It is possible that managers, who still tend to be heterosexual men, discriminate against homosexual men because they are grossed out. They cost the company money, sure, but they maximize their personal utility.

    I must say, even being accepting of gay men, what they do is gross. And I don't have any religious or inherited cultural disgust.

  2. Rob,

    It may occur in net, although there is some movement toward being seen as gay-friendly. Whatever side of the ledger the balance ends up on, I find the assertion that it causes gay men to earn 23% less than straight men because of sexual preference absurd.

    Like in the case of the fallacious study purporting to find no relationship between wealth and IQ, the overwhelming body of evidence points to gays, especially gay men, as being one of the most affluent demographic groups around.

    These guys made the assumption that discrimination was occuring because of sexual orientation, with no knowledge of how the various gay men acted. I suspect the number of hiring managers who would pass someone over after hearing in passing that he lived with another man (but who displayed no outward 'gayness') who was otherwise qualified is miniscule.

  3. Yeah, I think we agree far more than we disagree. I am not claiming that discrimination is responsible for 100% of any wage gap, maybe like 10-15, just to pick out a number. My main problem with the "no employer would irrationally discriminate" argument is that it ignores the agency problem.

    My guess as to why gay men earn less is that they tend to not need overtime, take unpleasant jobs that pay better, etc. because they have very few children. Lesbians, if I recall, tend to have more children.

    As to gays being affluent, DINK counts for a lot, and so does having two male wage-earners, being able to live in lower cost areas because they don't have to worry as much about schools or crime. but I would bet that lower-income, less-educated men who prefer having male partners do not self-identify as gay. Hence the downlow phenomena of a couple years ago.

    I do agree that personal choices likely account for most of the gap. And the fact that, whether spoken or not, the researchers had to invoke "lesbian privilege" to explain the lesbian earnings advantage is a bit funny.

    Hiring managers: someone should point out to the activist class that HR is disproportionately female and black.

    The wealth-IQ "noncorrelation" was hilarious.

    Rebrand eugenics: how about holistic child development? Or sustainable reproduction? Who could be against it?

  4. Rob,

    Lesbians do have fewer children than heterosexual women, but the gap isn't as large as it is between straight and gay guys.

    Individually, gay men have higher incomes than straight men. The reason the earnings gap existed, is because the study looked at individuals who were part of a couple. Well, in a single- or primary-income earning household, that will be the guy in the heterosexual case. But in the case of gays, it will be a mixed bag, thus artificially pushing down the earnings of gay men compared to straight men, and pushing up lesbian earnings relative to straight female earnings.

    The DL phenomenon is worth noting, especially among black males.

    Holistic child development…

    I'm sold!

  5. Another thing that would reduce the total income of gay couples is that two live cheaper than one: gay couples can slack off a bit from work when they live together. When straight guys do, their girlfriends leave them, or their wives divorce them.

    Do you know offhand if gay men have an IQ advantage over straights, either verbal or performance? Because if it ain't IQ, it would be even more interesting that they are wealthy.

    I saw in a Howard Gardner book, not the best source I know, that Eskimo have about a 25 point advantage in spatial ability over whites. He said that 60% of Eskimo children score as well as the top 10% of white children. Do you know if that's true? It would make the Eskimo the Jews of spatial intelligence, and totally worth looking into for alleles that up PIQ.

    I'm especially interested in upping visuospatial ability, as it is my weak suit, and I'm starting an engineering masters in January.

  6. Rob,

    See Inductivist's post from the GSS. He shows what seems reasonable–men who describe themselves as gay have an advantage of a few points on straight men. I suspect that is on account of wealthier, more educated men being less likely to remain in the closet, as the world they live in is much more accepting of homosexuality than is the working class or underclass.

    Regarding the Eskimos: I remember reading in Lynn's most recent book that visuo-spatial skills were high, and in fact brain size was the largest of any human population measured. I don't have the book with me currently, but when I get back home I'll verify.

  7. Thanks dude, I read inductivist, must have missed that one. A 5 point advantage is pretty hefty. I wonder though if they have a depressed performance IQ. Gay men are not, at least in popular imagination, over-represented in say, math and engineering.

    Have you been keeping up with the Watson stuff? I'm certainly not qualified to speak on factor invariance and such related to a unary g factor, but the fact that some populations are elevated in verbal or performance IQ vs. the other (Jews, Eskimo), and there AFAIK, PIQ and VIQ have a much lower correlation within the Jewish than within the gentile population

  8. Rob,

    I don't know about the potentially weaker correlation between the two major IQ components in Jews than in others.

    La Griffe du Lion argues that verbal intelligence is crucial in building a functioning, modern, liberal society.

    I'm not home until tomorrow, but GNXP's Jason Malloy has a brief synopsis of Richard Lynn's work on 'Arctic peoples' here (scroll down to Chapter 11).

  9. Thanks AP,

    The 2nd link is wrong, but I'm sure I can find it.

    Here is something on PIQ/VIQ correlation from

    "Levinson (1958) studied a representative sample of yeshiva students and found an average Verbal IQ of 125.6, an average Performance IQ of 105.3, and an average Full Scale IQ of 117.86…Whereas in the general population there was a correlation of 0.77 between Verbal and Performance IQs, among Jewish children it was only 0.31."

  10. Rob,

    Wow, that is a large gap.

    Sorry, here's the correct link.

  11. It's not the size of the gap so much that shocks me, though it does, it is that PIQ and VIQ are so decoupled in that population. I don't know if there are better, more recent studies, or if majority rights cherry-picks, or what. But it is interesting. If high g leads to high PIQ + VIQ, then selecting for either one should select for more g, raising the other. Why only a .3 correlation rather than .77?

  12. Rob,

    My guess is that it might be Ashkenazi intelligence selection was primarily for higher verbal IQ, given the relatively urban nature of Jewish existence through the 18th century in Europe. East Asians usually score a couple of points lower on in the VIQ area than people of European descent do.

  13. Yeah, but shouldn't selection for verbal ability also be selection for g, which should up performance IQ?

    How did selection only work on verbal without spatial, since the two are correlated?

  14. Rob,

    That the two are correlated doesn't mean they must move in the same direction at some set rate, necessarily. The g-factor is likely comprised of a complex set of genomic sequences. I wonder what the relationship between verbal and visuospatial for East Asians is.

  15. If gay men have higher IQs it's almost certainly in the verbal area. Plus whatever IQ is associated with artistic creativity, anecdotal evidence suggests that gays, particularly gay men, have in abundance. There probably is a strong kernel of truth in the "Queer Eye" for the straight guy narrative.

    In the modern era, about 50% of the great composers have turned out to be homosexuals. And gays have always been overrepresented among artists, writers, playwrights, etc. When John Derbyshire picked his choice for greatest "Human Accomplisher" of the 20th Century, he picked Cole Porter, a gay men who illustrates the type of special talent more likely to be found among gay men.

    As I understand the above study, it compared apples to apples and controlled for such things as education and credentials. That's fine for showing discrimination. But it might also help to look at how gays earn on average with how straights earn on average, without those controls. If gays on average are better educated with better credentials (which I think, the some data shows, they are), they might earn more on average, in spite of the discrimination.

    In other words, if you compare apples to apples you see discrimination. But looking at the big picture, gays, like jews, might just be a better set of apples.

  16. Jonathan,

    There is a serious flaw, though. I pointed it out in the body of the post–a gay male couple of bachelor's holders (and this study focused entirely on couples) that consists of a single breadwinner will skew earnings downard as compared to a heterosexual couple, both bachelor's, in which the male is the sole breadwinner.

    Say both households have a total income of $75,000 a year, in both cases provided exclusively by the breadwinner. Well, from this, we have average incomes as follows:

    Heterosexual males = $75,000
    Heterosexual females = $0
    Gay males = $37,500

    See the problem? Most evidence shows that gay couples tend to have higher incomes than heterosexual couples, even though as individuals, gay men have lower earnings than straight men.

    The study is tautologically accurate, but highly misleading. It does not evince any discrimination whatsoever.

    Regarding artistic creativity of gay men: That meshes with what I've always thought about many gay men–they have a lower level of inhibition than straight men (at least those who are out of the closet, although this group is likely self-selected for openness to experience, etc).

  17. Most evidence shows that gay couples tend to have higher incomes than heterosexual couples, even though as individuals, gay men have lower earnings than straight men.

    Perhaps we should do a little digging into all the studies that have been done. From the ones of which I am aware, they show that gay male individuals, on average, earn higher than straight male individuals. The studies showing discrimination control for credentials. The ones I am referring to do not.

    This is important. If you control for credentials and show like blacks with the exact same education, GPA and qualifications, v. like whites, you would find that blacks are overrepresented and earn more. But if you compare blacks on average v. whites on average, without doing those controls, whites do much better. The obvious answer is that affirmative action makes it such that blacks with exact same credentials do better than whites with the same. A similar dynamic is present here.

    Re creativity, I'm sorry, but creativity involves more than just risk taking. Lots of morons take risks and end up the worse for it. The likeliest explanation is that gays like Jews have higher verbal IQs and higher levels of artistic intelligence.

  18. Jonathan,

    I'm not disagreeing with you. The GSS shows gay men have about a 4 point IQ advantage over straight men. I would guess that the bulk of that comes from verbal intelligence.

    I'm merely pointing out that, additionally, low inhibition and low IQ tends to result in jail sentences and bankruptcy.

    Low inhibition and high IQ tends to lead to greater artistic creativity.

    I understand what you are saying regarding controls, but I think that pales in importance to the flawed methodology used. Since only by looking at couples were the researchers able to adequately gauge homosexuality in tens of thousands of people (using Census data), they didn't really have much of a choice.

    If only single people were looked at, the study would be telling, given adjustments. Looking at couples, however, artificially boosts heterosexual men and handicaps heterosexual women in terms of individual earnings.

  19. Rob,

    By the way, Lynn does report in his chapter on Inuits that the one extensive study done on brain size shows that Inuits have more cranial capacity. He attributes this to visuo-spatial memory, which requires a lot of hardware (relative to other brain functions).

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I suspect that is on account of wealthier, more educated men being less likely to remain in the closet, as the world they live in is much more accepting of homosexuality than is the working class or underclass.

    If gay men's higher IQs can be explained solely on the basis of the environment they live in, wouldn't bisexuals display higher intelligence as well? Because, according to the GSS, gay men and lesbians have higher IQs than heterosexuals, however male and female bisexuals have lower IQs than all other groups.

    And secondly, again according to the GSS, neither gay men nor lesbians are significantly wealthier than heterosexuals. Homosexuals, in fact, earn less than heterosexuals (and bisexuals earn even less than the others):

    1998 income bracket
    homosexuals 16.3
    bisexuals 13.6
    hetersexuals 17.1

    lesbians 14.8
    bisexuals 12.6
    heterosexuals 16.1

    Therefore, we can't attribute homosexuals' higher intelligence to the fact that they live in better, richer, environments, because they do not.

  21. Anonymous [AKA "Nice"] says:

    I agree with Jonathan.

    What's interesting is to see the average income of gays vs. heterosexual men.

    To compare a straight guy with a gay guy at a company, having the same education and experience, is less significant.

    Judging by 9-1 representation of heteros compared to gays, surely there might be one H. earning more
    than the G. However the remaining 7 H.s don't even reach up to their level.
    Thus, the overrepresentation of straight guys will surely have a few very good outcomes, meanwhile gays, as a smaller group but still in the top league, will have a higher average in performance.

    During my years in school, I was one of the most talented students, both in scientific and artistic subjects, and the other gay guys were also very talented.
    Most of the straight guys barely passed their exams, but there were a few who got better results than me.

    Similarly, if a country with a greater population was to compete against a country with a smaller population in, for instance, basketball. China Vs. Nigeria. The chances of finding outstanding players in China is higher than in Nigeria, but the average performance would probably be much lower in China.

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