New Study Debunks The Myth Of Gay Wealth

December 03, 1998

A new study released today resoundingly debunks widely held beliefs about the economic status of gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) people. Contrary to what has become the conventional wisdom on the subject, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people do not earn more than heterosexual people. In fact, they may even earn less. Income Inflation: The Myth of Affluence Among Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Americans was released today by the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies (IGLSS). The report was authored by M.V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and executive director of IGLSS.

Income Inflation is a startling study of the economic status of a frequently stereotyped population of Americans. Badgett explores the pervasive and inaccurate notion that GLB people form an economic elite, insulated from discrimination by their wealth and disconnected from society at large by a special, privileged status. After examining data from seven different surveys, she finds that none support this stereotype.

"The evidence from many different scientifically sound data sources points to the same clear conclusion: gay, lesbian, and bisexual people do not earn more than heterosexual people, either as individuals or as couples," reported Badgett. "Some GLB people are poor, some are rich, and most are in the middle, just as heterosexual people are. Now that we have credible data, we can stop relying on flawed studies that were designed to find high income gay people.

Right-wing organizations and individuals perpetuate and regularly exploit the myth of gay wealth to bolster their attacks against the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. The myth is so pervasive and accepted that even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia injected it into the dissenting opinion in the Colorado Amendment Two case. "We have long known that the myth of gay wealth is just that - a myth," said Urvashi Vaid, director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Income Inflation shines the light of truth on yet another of the Right's distortion of the facts," added Vaid.

(Please note: The transgender population is among the least examined by social scientists. Because of this lack of data, the inclusive term GLBT is used only when it is accurate to represent the community as a whole.)

A digital version of this report is available at You will need a copy of Adobe Acrobat to view this document.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.