A new study shows men in same-gender relationships earn more than both their female counterparts and heterosexual couples — and it highlights the ongoing gender pay gap
- Men in same-gender marriages earn 27% more than heterosexual couples, and 31% more than women in same-gender marriages.
- Women continue to make less money than men across different types of relationships.
The average income for married men in same-gender relationships is 31% higher than that of married women in same gender relationships, according to a recent Brookings Institute analysis of US Census Bureau data between 2015 and 2019. When separating the data for queer male couples and queer female couples, Brookings said that married men in same-gender relationships earned 27% more than heterosexual couples.
This data suggests that more men in a relationship means more income, a finding that makes sense given that women make about $10,000 less per year than their male counterparts, a number that grows even larger if the men in question are white, and the women are not.
On the whole, the Bureau reported, same-gender households made slightly more money than opposite-gender married couples, but Brookings found that this number was propelled by queer male couples.
"While men and women in same-gender families have similar proportions of income-related characteristics and higher proportions than opposite-sex couples, men in same-sex relationships have by far the highest median incomes," the researchers wrote.
"Notably, same-gender male couples are much more likely to live in a high density area, have a bachelor's degree holder in the relationship, and less likely to have a child than other households," the Brookings researchers wrote. "Prior research suggests that the presence of children, education, being in a dual income household, and residing in a high-density area are associated with higher household income."
Queer male couples and married couples are likely to have higher incomes
The Census Bureau's report found that the median household income of same-gender couples overall was $107,200, compared to $97,000 for mixed-gender couples.
These gaps become greater when the couples in question are not married — unmarried men in same-gender relationships make 36% more than women in same-gender relationships, and 38% more than unmarried, different-gender couples.
Unmarried, queer female couples earned more than unmarried heterosexual couples, however, making about $2,000 more than them on average. The dynamic is swapped when marriage comes into play, with opposite-gender married couples making about $3,000 more than same-gender unmarried couples.
The researchers also emphasize that children are more present in higher-income households, suggesting that couples are more likely to have kids when and if they're financially secure enough to.
These findings may be surprising, given the long history of workplace and hiring discrimination against LGBTQ+ people — as the researchers note, they do not address factors that include discrimination by gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and that many of these factors are not accounted for in their models.
One report from last year found that half of LGBTQ+ workers have faced job discrimination. There's a wide body of research about LGBTQ+ poverty rates, such as the 2019 statistic that 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ workers earned less than $25,000 a year, 1.5 times the rate of non-LGBTQ+ households.
A Harvard Business Review study from 2017 showed that although queer men used to make less money than straight men, that trend reversed around 2010, with queer men making about 10% more than straight men with similar education and experience, suggesting that queer men, at least, are making strides in combatting historical inequality.
Women in same-gender relationships are juggling multiple types of discrimination that can impact their income. Overall, women who were full-time, year-round employees made about 82.3 cents for every dollar men made in 2019, based on data from the Census Current Population Survey. That means women are paid 17.7% less than men, earning $10,157 less than them.
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