Variation in Lesbian Wage Gap by Lesbian Prevalence

Heili Pals, University of Central Florida
Warren Waren, University of Central Florida

Previous research has consistently revealed a significant wage gap between homosexual and heterosexual women: lesbian women earn higher wages than heterosexual women. One explanation for this is the social cost of publicly declaring oneself as a homosexual woman. We argue that this cost is higher in regions where homosexual relationships are less accepted. Therefore, only high SES women could afford to publicly disclose their homosexuality in regions with low acceptance of homosexual relationships. If this is true, we should see a larger wage gap between hetero- and homosexual women in regions with low lesbian prevalence. We use data from US Census 2000. Preliminary analyses on data from California and Texas suggest that lesbian prevalence impacts earnings and wages differently. In terms of total earnings, the earnings gap follows the high cost of disclosure hypothesis. However, for wages, the gap reverses for lesbians in areas with a high lesbian prevalence.

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Presented in Poster Session 4