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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 21 No. 2 (Spring 2007)

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The Economics of Lesbian and Gay Families

Article Citation

Black, Dan A., Seth G. Sanders, and Lowell J. Taylor. 2007. "The Economics of Lesbian and Gay Families." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2): 53-70.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.2.53

Abstract

In this essay, we provide some statistics about the gay and lesbian population in the United States, and ask if analysis based on economic reasoning can provide insight into the family outcomes we observe. We do not start with a hypothesis of innate differences in preferences, but instead seek to understand how differences in constraints systematically alter incentives faced by gay, lesbian, and heterosexual people. Our work reinforces a central theme of Gary Becker's: that family life and economic life are interwoven. Decisions within families -- including couples' decisions to commit to one another, divorce, bear children, or adopt children -- are intrinsically connected to other economic decisions, including human capital accumulation, labor supply, occupational choice, consumption, and decisions about where to live. We provide evidence addressing number of questions: Do differing biological constraints faced by gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples affect choices over children? Do differences in fertility (or anticipated fertility), again owing to differences in constraints, influence where people live? Do same-sex couples have patterns of household specialization that differ in predictable fashion from heterosexual couples?

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Authors

Black, Dan A.
Sanders, Seth G.
Taylor, Lowell J.

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