sealPurdue News

July 25, 2001

How can single males raise their income? Get married

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue researcher and a colleague who set out to find the difference between the wages of heterosexual and homosexual males were surprised by what they discovered.

Michelle M. Arthur

"It turned out that the difference between wages of single heterosexual and homosexual men was only 2.4 percent," says Michelle M. Arthur, an assistant professor of management at the Krannert School of Management. "The real penalty was for unmarried men in general, who earned an average of 14.1 percent less than their married counterparts. Single homosexual males made 2.4 percent less than single heterosexuals."

What this means, Arthur says, is "we have a society that rewards marriage disproportionately. There's actually a marriage premium by employers who reward what is perceived as family stability and the responsibility that underlies it."

Arthur and co-author Sylvia A. Allegretto, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, published their research in the April issue of the Industrial and Labor Relations Review at Cornell University.

They based their findings on the 1990 census, the first time the U.S. Census Bureau asked whether an individual's relationship to the head of the household was that of an "unmarried partner."

"Our study sample of 4,427 homosexual men allowed for the first large-scale study of that group of men," Arthur says. The sample of heterosexual unmarried partners included 86,128 individuals.

Arthur and Allegretto plan similar research using 2000 census figures.

Sources: Michelle M. Arthur, (765) 494-4445,

Sylvia A. Allegretto, (303) 492-4288,

Writer: J. Michael Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Arthurm


An Empirical Analysis of Homosexual/Heterosexual Male Earnings Differentials: Unmarried and Unequal

Sylvia A. Allegretto and Michelle M. Arthur

Using data from the 1990 U.S. Census (PUMS 5 percent), the authors present the first large-scale study of wage differentials between heterosexual and homosexual men. The homosexual sample, consisting of gay men in unmarried partnered relationships, are estimated to have earned 15.6 percent less than similarly qualified, married heterosexual men, and 2.4 percent less than similarly qualified, unmarried partnered heterosexual men. The authors interpret these two figures as upper- and lower-bound estimates of the differential between homosexual and heterosexual men. The dual comparison enables the authors to disentangle the penalty to being unmarried from other determinants of the wage differential; estimated at 14.1 percent, this variable appears to be the main source of the wage gap.

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