Gay men in the United Kingdom face discrimination when it comes to pay, despite having a higher level of education. But they still earn more than the UK average.
A team of economists analysed the salaries of gay couples and discovered that gay men earn 9 per cent more than non-gay men living with a partner. But with adjustments for other factors, they found these gay men should be earning 14.5 per cent more than their heterosexual counterparts.
Reza Arabsheibani, from the School of Management and Business at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, carried out the first econometric study of gay pay in the UK with colleagues Alan Marin of the London School of Economics and Jonathan Wadsworth of Royal Holloway College and the LSE Centre for Economic Performance.
They will present their findings next week at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference at Warwick University.
Their research also uncovered a pay advantage for lesbian women over their non-gay counterparts. Overall, gay couples earn 20.5 per cent more than non-gay couples, but after adjusting for other factors, they expected such couples to earn 23 per cent more than their non-gay counterparts.
Although UK law prevents discrimination on grounds of race, gender, marital status and, in Northern Ireland, religion, no laws cover discrimination against homosexuals.
The European Union will force the introduction of such legislation by 2003, so the study will be critical in political and economic decision-making.
There is no reliable information on the UK's gay population as the census does not ask about sexual orientation.
But since 1996, the Labour Force Survey has contained information that can identify same-sex partners who live together. This provided the data for the study.
But even these data are not necessarily complete, because some couples may not live together, some gay people may be married to a heterosexual partner and others may not disclose that they live with a same-sex partner.
The researchers compared the earnings of 630 cohabiting homosexuals (399 male, 231 female) with 176,903 married heterosexuals and 33,104 unmarried heterosexual cohabitees.
Professor Arabsheibani, who has worked with Professor Marin on several papers on wage differentials, said: "We were not surprised to find that they were discriminated against but probably were surprised that they had a higher raw average wage."
Feature, page 20