Strategy

Lesbian wage gap

Gay women earn a wage premium over heterosexuals. The question is why?

The reason lesbians earn more than heterosexual women has long been a bit of a mystery, but a group of economists at the University of Nevada have an answer. Previous studies have controlled for the fact that lesbians are better educated, more likely to be white, have fewer children and live in cities, but a 6% wage premium still exists.

A study from 2009 now getting buzz on the blogosphere explored the role marriage plays in the lesbian wage premium, and found that women who don’t expect to be part of a traditional family spend more time investing in labour participation through on-the-job training and working longer hours than household skills. They add that women who marry or expect to marry high-earners are more likely to enjoy spare time rather than use it to develop market skills.

The researchers looked at four groups: never-married and previously married lesbians and heterosexual women. After controlling for marriage, they found the lesbian wage premium dropped to 5.2% and there was no significant wage difference between previously married lesbians and never-married heterosexuals. The study did not account for time off work for children, but did cite a study from 2007 that concludes lesbian wage premiums are larger in households with children.