Poverty in US Lesbian and Gay Couple Households

Alyssa Schneebaum and M. V. Lee Badgett

Poverty is a widely researched topic in economics. However, despite growing research on the economic lives of lesbians and gay men in the United States since the mid 1990s, very little is known about poverty in same-sex couple households. This study uses American Community Survey data from 2010 to 2014 to calculate poverty rates for households headed by different-sex versus same-sex couples. Comparing households with similar characteristics, the results show that those headed by same-sex couples are more likely to be in poverty than those headed by different-sex married couples. Despite that overall disadvantage, a decomposition of the poverty risk shows that same-sex couples are protected from poverty by their higher levels of education and labor force participation, and their lower probability of having a child in the home. Lastly, the role of gender – above and beyond sexual orientation – is clear in the greater vulnerability to poverty for lesbian couples.

To view the full text of this article or book review, please see our instruction on accessing the publisher's website.