Data refute myth of “rich gays”

by on June 10, 2013  •  In Economics, Race, Social science
graph poverty report

The Williams Institute has released a study on the demographics of poverty among LGB Americans, demonstrating that the image of a monolithically or predominantly wealthy gay community is a myth. Like other Americans, LGB persons are most likely to live in poverty if they are persons of color or raising children. Unlike heterosexual couples, for whom rural, small town or big city locations made little difference in the poverty rate, gay and lesbian couples living outside big cities were significantly more likely to be poor.

Key findings include:

  • In Gallup data on individuals living alone, lesbians, gay men and heterosexual women all have poverty rates that hover around 20%; the rate for heterosexual males is markedly lower: 13.4%.
  • In the American Community Survey, 7.6% of lesbian couples and 4.3% of gay male couples, compared to 5.7% of married different-sex couples, live in poverty. 
  • African American same-sex couples, both male and female, have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans.
  • Of all individuals between the ages of 18 and 44, bisexual men and women have higher poverty rates than gay men, lesbians or heterosexuals.
  • Almost one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2% of children living with a female same-sex couple are in poverty, compared to 12.1% of children living with married different-sex couples. 

The study updates and extends a similar, first-of-its kind Williams Institute report released in 2009 that was based on data from the first half of the last decade. The new report draws on recent data from four datasets: the 2010 American Community Survey (for same-sex couples), the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (for LGB people aged 18-44), the 2007-2009 California Health Interview Survey (for LGB people 18 and older living in California), and the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll (for single LGBT-identified adults) over the June 1 – September 30, 2012 time period.

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