Get access

The Wage Gap against Gay Men: The Leveling of the Playing Field


  • We thank Gary Gates for his valuable feedback on an early version of this paper. His comments changed and improved significantly our empirical analysis. We also thank all the participants of the workshop Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Labor Market, held in Paris in June 2012. The current version of the paper benefited from the incorporation of comments and suggestions by Lee Badgett and Kitt Carpenter. Selected results from the paper were also presented at the GLOBE OECD, OWN et le Comité IDAHO Organisent, OCED Conference Center, Paris, France, May 30, 2012.


This study uses data from the March Supplement Current Population Survey (CPS) to examine the wage differential against gay men from 1995 to 2011 in the United States. A wage equation is estimated using the Heckman two-stage method, which addresses the sample selection bias inherent in wage equation estimations. We find evidence that in the United States the wage gap against gay men has significantly decreased over the last two decades. We also find that evidence that the wage gap has become concentrated in three occupations: managerial, sales, and protective services. We conclude that the evidence is most consistent with the hypothesis that discrimination is decreasing, and possibly non-existent and that any lingering discrimination is based on the taste for discrimination by employees against being managed by a gay man and by customers.

Get access to the full text of this article