Saturday, May 20, 2006

Are gays oppressed? We are told that America is a homophobic. Oliver Stone's "Alexander" tanked because we are disgusted by gay sex. Our hatred was shown in the reaction to "Brokeback Mountain." Well, if this were true, we would expect to see pervasive discrimination against homosexuals, and they would be forced into the lowest rungs of society. But my impression is that homosexuals do very well, at least in highly visible, creative fields--Broadway, Hollywood, and fashion. There seem to be many gay men and lesbians at high levels in my world (academia). And when I worked in health care, homosexuals apparently were doing well there too.

But let's move past impressions to data. According to the General Social Survey, the mean scores for job prestige (0-100), years of education, and 1998 income category (1-23) for men of different sexual orientations are as follows:

Job prestige
homosexuals 45.2
bisexuals 42.9
hetersexuals 44.5

Years of education
homosexuals 14.3
bisexuals 13.2
heterosexuals 13.6

1998 income bracket
homosexuals 16.3
bisexuals 13.6
hetersexuals 17.1

Gay men make a little less money than straight guys (17 means a household income of $35-40k), but they have more prestigious jobs. This suggests that gays are going into fields like education that are well-respected but don't pay particularly well.

And lesbians?

Job prestige
lesbians 43.9
bisexuals 40.2
heterosexuals 43.8

lesbians 13.9
bisexuals 12.6
heterosexuals 13.4

1998 income bracket
lesbians 14.8
bisexuals 12.6
heterosexuals 16.1

We can see that lesbians have more prestigious jobs than straight women, and they are more educated. My guess is that their household incomes are lower because their partners are females who tend to make less money than would a husband.

And it is PC and naive to argue that we don't see evidence of discrimination because homosexuality is not skin color--bigots can't detect it. Perhaps not always, but of course they can. As I showed in an earlier post, many Americans think homosexuality is wrong, but the above numbers suggest that people are not going to hold it against you.


  1. My guess is that hetero males make more money because of the tendency for fathers to put their noses to the grindstone and max out their earning power.

    Many prestigious jobs (in media, for example) pay poorly because they don't have to pay well - employers in those sectors can snap up high-quality people regardless. My wife and I once did rather similar jobs, her in a famous media company, me in a much shlubbier environment. I made 50 percent more than her.

  2. Gay men likely have more feminine career preferences -- they want an air-conditioned office job involving people rather than breaking their back to get higher union wages in construction, law enforcement, etc. That accounts for lower wages and yet higher prestige. Office jobs also are more demanding of education level.

  3. You can do well even if you're oppressed if your relevant ability is superior, which in modern America largely means intellectual ability - hence the success of Chinese-Americans despite discrimination. My suspicion is that men who self-identify as gay average IQ over 100, giving them an inherent advantage over the general population.


Meta-analysis of clinical trials: Eat walnuts

I am always looking for easy eating choices that are good for you. This new meta-analysis of 26 clinical trials looked to see if walnuts ma...