The effects of state and local antidiscrimination policies on earnings for gays and lesbians



In the last 25 years, many cities and counties, as well as a few states, have adopted policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in private or public employment. These policies may increase earnings for gays and lesbians by decreasing discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion, or pay. This study uses data from the 1990 U.S. census to estimate the effects of these policies on individual earnings and household income. The results suggest that the policies have been adopted in places with higher earnings and that same-sex couples are more likely to live in areas that have adopted policies. However, after controlling for individual and location characteristics, the results show no evidence of a direct effect of antidiscrimination policies on average earnings or income for members of same-sex couples. Antidiscrimination policies may be more important both for a small number of individuals and as symbols of full citizenship and legitimacy for gays and lesbians.