What are some of the social and economic benefits of same-sex marriage?
The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in June 2015 has led to a number of social and economic benefits. For example, weddings generate revenue for hotels, restaurants, and other venues. They also lead to greater spending on travel and other vacation-related activities, creating new economic opportunities for local businesses.
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People who are in same-sex relationships have higher incomes than those who are not (Becker, 1991; Badgett, 1995; Antecol and Steinberger, 2013; Baumle et al., 2008; Black, Sanders, and Taylor, 2007). Among those who are partnered, men in same-sex couples have the highest family incomes. They are more likely to have two earners, live in a densely populated area, and have higher education than opposite-gender couples. However, the differences in family income between same-gender and opposite-gender couple types are relatively small.
Occupational patterns are also different among same-sex couples. Gay and lesbian women are more likely to be in occupations that are gender-segregated than heterosexual women, whereas gay men are more likely to be in occupations that include a higher percentage of women than heterosexual men. These patterns may reflect selection into or adaptation to the labor market by LGB people. But they can also be the result of discrimination, especially in the workplace.
In addition, women in same-sex relationships are more likely to be in low-wage and high-poverty industries than those who are not in same-sex couples. They are also more likely to be in poor-quality housing or not have enough income for their basic needs.
These income differentials can be explained by the decisions made by individuals and their families when deciding what to do with their time and money. In addition to selecting occupations, people make choices about whether to pursue education, training, and experience. They also decide how to divide up work responsibilities in the household. They choose a partner and if they have children. These decisions can affect their earnings, especially if they invest in the labor market-specific human capital that increases their chances of earning a higher income.
This research uses a combination of data from the Census Bureau and American Community Survey that allows researchers to identify and analyze same-gender relationship households for the first time. These data are nationally-representative, allowing for a more accurate portrayal of same-sex relationships than previous estimates.
There are a number of factors that affect same-sex family income, including the characteristics of the members in the relationship and their age, education, and location. Across all couple types, people who are unmarried have the lowest family incomes and those who are married have the highest.
The differences in income among same-sex couples are largely due to their gender, although other factors also play a role. Compared with those who are unmarried, gay and lesbian people in same-sex couples have the highest incomes in both urban and rural areas, with some exceptions.
These results suggest that the increased integration of same-sex couples in the workforce may be responsible for some of their earnings improvements. But there are many other potential explanations for same-sex earnings improvements, and more research is needed to determine which factors are responsible for them.