Labor Market Discrimination Against Homosexuals

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


Discrimination against sexual minorities has been a popular topic in the public debate during recent years. Media and political coverage of the advances in guaranteeing social rights to sexual minorities, like marriage and child adoption, contrasts with how little we know about discrimination in other areas, like the job market. This research project aims to provides evidence about the labor market discrimination faced by non-heterosexual workers. It intends to overcome several problems that have been pervasive in the small economic literature available on this topic. First, the selected sample problem: by using a novel longitudinal survey I am able to estimate the gaps with large enough samples that include single, married and cohabiting homosexuals, using different definitions of homosexuality. Second, homosexuality as a unobserved trait: I use a semi-structural model that relies on the identification of unobserved heterogeneity in the form of skills and a latent construct of homosexuality, to allow schooling choices, occupational choices and labor market outcomes to be endogenously determined. This way, I study the relationship between sexual preferences, skills, choices and income gaps. Preliminary results show that, compared to heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals’ probability of finding a job is between 16 and 22 percentage points lower. That gap cannot be explained by differences in observable characteristics or skills. However, I find that once employed, income differentials against non-heterosexuals are small or non-existent. I also find that the sizes of the income and employment gaps differ depending on education attainment and gender.

Grant Product

Unobserved Heterogeneity and Labor Market Discrimination against Homosexuals
Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 18-294, 2018