28 June 2013


One of the more pernicious myths about sexual affinity is that "all" (or most) LGBT people are 'rich and hip' ... and thereby somehow undeserving of the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by their peers. It is thus refreshing to see 'New Patterns of Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community' [PDF] by M.V. Lee Badgett, Laura E. Durso and Alyssa Schneebaum.

They comment that
As poverty rates for nearly all populations increased during the recession, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) Americans remained more likely to be poor than heterosexual people. Gender, race, education and geography all influence poverty rates among LGB populations, and children of same-sex couples are particularly vulnerable to poverty.
Yes, not all LGB people are rich, hip and echt californian.

The study draws on data from four datasets to estimate recent poverty rates for US LGB people in all walks of life: same-sex couples (2010 American Community Survey), LGB people aged 18-44 (2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth), LGB adults in California (2007-2009 California Health Interview Survey) and single LGBT-identified adults (2012 Gallup Daily Tracking Poll).

Key findings include:
  • 7.6% of lesbian couples, compared to 5.7% of married different-sex couples, are in poverty. 
  • African American same-sex couples have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans. 
  • One third of lesbian couples and 20.1 % of gay male couples without a high school diploma are in poverty, compared to 18.8% of different-sex married couples. 
  • Lesbian couples who live in rural areas are much more likely to be poor (14.1%), compared to 4.5% of coupled lesbians in large cities. 
  • 10.2% of men in same-sex couples, who live in small metropolitan areas, are poor, compared with only 3.3% of coupled gay men in large metropolitan areas.
  • 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. African American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3%) of any children in any household type. 
  • 14.1% of lesbian couples and 7.7% of gay male couples receive food stamps, compared to 6.5% of different-sex married couples.  
  • 2.2% of women in same-sex couples receive government cash assistance, compared to .8% of women in different sex couples; 1.2% of men in same-sex couples, compared to 0.6% of men in different-sex couples, receive cash assistance.