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Occupational segregation by sexual orientation in the U.S.

Working Paper 2016-425

Abstract

This paper examines how important the occupational sorting of individuals in same-sex couples is in explaining the economic position of lesbians and gays beyond controlling for occupation in the estimation of their respective wage gaps. The analysis reveals that the distribution of partnered gay men across occupations brings them a remarkable positive earning gap (11% of the average wage of partnered workers), whereas the occupational sorting of partnered lesbian women only allows them to depart from the large losses that straight partnered women have since their earning gap, although positive, is close to zero. The results show that if gay men had the same educational achievements, immigration profile, racial composition, and age structure as straight partnered men have, the advantages of this group associated with their occupational sorting would disappear completely. Likewise, if lesbian women had the same characteristics, other than sex and gender orientation, as straight partnered men have, the small advantage that these women derive from their occupational sorting would not only vanish but would turn into disadvantages, leaving them with a loss with respect to the average wage of coupled workers similar to the one straight partnered women have after their corresponding homogenization. It is their higher educational attainments and, to a lower extent, their lower immigration profile, that prevents workers living in same-sex couples from having a disadvantaged occupational sorting, since neither do gay men seem to enjoy the privilege of being partnered men nor do lesbian women appear to be free from the mark of gender.

Authors: Coral del Río, Olga Alonso-Villar.

Keywords: Sexual orientation, gender, occupational segregation, wages, well-being.
JEL: D63, I31, J15, J16.