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Age and the new lesbian earnings penalty

Michael E. Martell (Department of Economics, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 16 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to observe how the cohabiting lesbian earnings differential in the USA has changed since the early 2000s, a time period during which the lesbian, gay and bisexual rights movement has been very successful.

Design/methodology/approach

The author analyzes the 2012–2017 American Community Survey using Mincer-style income regressions.

Findings

The author finds that cohabiting lesbians earn approximately 11 percent less than married heterosexual women. The earnings penalty has emerged as a result of the disproportionately large penalty young lesbians’ experience. While older lesbians (over 45) do not experience an earnings penalty, younger lesbians appear doubly disadvantaged. They now face a lesbian wage gap of approximately 24 percent in addition to the previously documented gender wage gap.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that cohabiting lesbians earn approximately 11 percent less than married heterosexual women. The earnings penalty has emerged as a result of the disproportionately large penalty young cohabiting lesbians experience. While older cohabiting lesbians (over 45) do not experience an earnings penalty, younger cohabiting lesbians face a wage gap of approximately 24 percent.

Originality/value

The study finds, contrary to most previous research, a cohabiting lesbian earnings penalty instead of premium. The findings highlight that there is considerable heterogeneity in the economic experience of cohabiting lesbians, and that young cohabiting lesbians comprise a particularly vulnerable population.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Citation

Martell, M.E. (2019), "Age and the new lesbian earnings penalty", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 649-670. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-10-2018-0322

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited