Jan 21, 2022 - Economy

Women in same-gender partnerships face a double pay gap

Family income, by couple
Data: The Hamilton Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A married female couple will bring home lower wages, on average, than an opposite-gender married couple or a same-gender male couple.

Why it matters: Women in same-gender partnerships can experience (at least) two kinds of discrimination, based on their gender and on their sexual orientation.

The latest: A new analysis from The Hamilton Project, a policy think tank at The Brookings Institution, offers new info, delving into five years of Census data on same-gender household income. Findings:

  • Male same-gender married couples earned $121,000 in income, on average.
  • Meanwhile, female same-gender married households made $93,000, or slightly less than the average household income for different-gender couples.

Of note: The small difference between female same-gender married couples and opposite-gender couples was especially surprising because female partnerships are more likely dual-income (both women working), said Lauren Bauer, a fellow at Brookings, who co-authored the paper.

  • 88% of female same-gender married households are dual income, compared to 78% of male-female marriages, according to the data.
  • "Two women in a couple will experience two gender gaps, and that’s a big part of the difference," said M. V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and author of The Economic Case for LGBT Equality: Why Fair and Equal Treatment Benefits Us All

What's next: More research. The Census only started collecting reliable info on same-gender households in 2015, after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Bauer said they're only scratching the surface here.

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