Gay Money: The Truth About Lesbian & Gay Economics
November 16, 2010 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Gay Money: The Truth About Lesbian & Gay Economics
I spent seven months this year reading every article published since the ’90s on lesbian and gay incomes and earnings. Shocker! Claims by gay marketers to the contrary, gay males earn less on average than straight males, while lesbians on average earn more. This project summarizes the research in plain language in one convenient location. (Especially valuable for journalists, who love to reiterate the claims of gay marketers without fact-checking them.)
posted by joeclark (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

This is pretty interesting. I know that I've echoed the idea that gay couples are more affluent in the past. I will stop doing this.

I think that people perceive gay couples as being more affluent because they're somehow able to be more FABulous and creative for less money. I've never seen such wonderfully appointed living quarters as some urban queers have, but when you look more closely, it's not because they've bought better things... It's because they express themselves differently with what they choose to have, and perhaps are more conscious of how things work together.

Nothing depresses me more than a heterosexual couple's house where the woman has obviously gotten all her ideas from Martha Stewart's K-Mart line. It's like, it's nice, and it works together, but wow, does it ever look unappealing to me.

Thanks for this. You've changed the way I look at the world.
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2010

A gay friend of mine told me that the reason gay people are a desirable marketing demographic is because they spend more money on fun stuff like cars and vacations because they have fewer kids, not that they earn more money overall.

I don't have any scientific evidence that this is true, but I do know an awful lot of people with kids who spend practically nothing on themselves, so it seems plausible.

posted by miyabo at 4:04 PM on November 17, 2010

Do any of your references focus on spending rather than on income? If, as miyabo says, gays have more discretionary income (because their families are smaller), this could lead to more discretionary spending which would still make them a lucrative market. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I'm curious about spending habits which would seem to matter more to marketers.
posted by bluefly at 7:42 PM on November 17, 2010

Bluefly, the available studies do not address “discretionary income,” but given that the preponderance of studies show lower income and earnings, I doubt that having higher discretionary income comes into play. Prokos found that levels of poverty were higher among gay and lesbian couples than, say, married hetero couples.

Now, if we compare straight couples with kids with gay and with lesbian couples with kids, I would expect that both the gay and the lesbian samples would have lower discretionary income for the same reasons as above. But there really are fewer gay and lesbian couples with children, meaning that a higher proportion of couples would have money to spend that would otherwise go toward raising kids.

This is not the same as “DINK” or a statement that a higher number of childless couples leads to more discretionary spending. There may be proportionately more childless couples among gays, but that doesn’t mean that all their discretionary income put together is higher than straight people’s (even averaged out over every person in each discrete category).

Given all that, I will add that no, none of the studies I have here addressed discretionary spending. I do have a couple of marketing-focussed papers that I simply don’t trust or believe, so I’m not including them in the preceding sentence.
posted by joeclark at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is terrific. For some reason it develops a sideways scroll bar when I view it on my 13" laptop. Couldn't figure out why.
posted by jessamyn at 7:18 PM on November 20, 2010

In which browser?
posted by joeclark at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2010

It’s probably the known interaction between padding-right and width: 100% in the top banner (manifesting differently on iPhone). A claimed fix didn’t fix it, so I’m just living with it. Must every single thing I ever do in my entire life be absolutely perfect?

Readability bookmarklet or just no-CSS view will result in an adequate experience, because the semantics of these documents are absolutely perfect.
posted by joeclark at 10:34 AM on November 21, 2010

Yeah this is Firefox for the Mac and I'm not seeing it this morning.
posted by jessamyn at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2010

I believe we fixed it.
posted by joeclark at 1:44 PM on November 21, 2010

Thank you. Directing people to this site rather than typing it all out will save me hours.

Hours I should be spending not earning as much as my straight counterparts.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:47 PM on November 26, 2010

I was always suspicious about the "gays gentrify" thing. >Just a little<>
I'm still suspicious about such studies ... because the visible gays are the tip of the (anti)-iceberg. (And more likely to be discriminated against.) I'd maintain that the real numbers are and will remain unknown.
posted by Twang at 4:52 PM on November 27, 2010

Actually, Twang, we have a good handle on “the real numbers,” and the preponderance of those findings do not support marketers’ claims that “the gay community” (really just gay males) are a “dream” or “lucrative” market of “DINKs.” Please read my site.
posted by joeclark at 9:30 AM on November 28, 2010

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