Are Gay Men Really Rich? (Ep. 148)
Our latest episode is called “Are Gay Men Really Rich?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) It began with a question from Freakonomics Radio listener Danny Rosa:
ROSA: I’m wondering why gay men are so affluent and successful. If you walk around neighborhoods like West Hollywood in Los Angeles, the Castro in San Francisco, and Boystown in Chicago, they are all very well-kept, expensive, and highly sought-after. So, I’m thinking, what is it about gay men and the gay culture that makes them so wealthy?
In the episode, Stephen Dubner explores the “gay men are rich” stereotype and learns what the data can — and, importantly, cannot — tell us. Along the way, you’ll hear from Lee Badgett at the Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank dedicated to sexual-orientation research; Dan Black, a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago; and Keith Ericson, a professor of public policy at Boston University. You’ll also hear from Steve Levitt on why gays choose to live where they do (he talked about this in an earlier episode). In the end, you’ll learn a lot about income and sexual orientation, but you’ll also learn that nearly everything you learn is, on some level, suspect. As Badgett reminds us:
BADGETT: The most important thing to know is that it is actually pretty hard to get good data on lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
This episode drew on the following papers and studies, which you might wish to look through if the topic is of interest. Thanks to Gary Gates at the Williams Institute for helping us sort through the data:
- “Why Do Gay Men Live In San Francisco?” by Dan Black, Gary Gates, Seth Sanders, Lowell Taylor, published in Journal of Urban Economics.
- “The Economics of Lesbian and Gay Families,” by Dan Black, Seth Sanders, and Lowell Taylor, published in The Journal of Economic Perspectives.
- “The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Anti-Gay Sentiment are Substantially Underestimated,” by Katherine B. Coffman, Lucas C. Coffman, Keith M. Marzilli Ericson, NBER working paper.
- “New Patterns of Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community,” by M.V. Lee Badgett, Laura E. Durso, Alyssa Schneebaum, published by The Williams Institute.
- “Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men,” by M.V. Lee Badgett
- “Frequently Asked Questions About Same-Sex Couple Households,” U.S. Census Bureau.
- “Same Sex and Different Sex Couples in the American Community Survey: 2005-2011,” by Gary J. Gates, published by The Williams Institute.
- “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings,” by Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose, Ban Cheah, published by The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
- “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2012,” U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.