Dec. 6 (UPI) -- After years of getting paid less that straight men, gay men in the United States now earn more, according to a recent study.
For years, federal data available showed that gay men earned an average of 5 to 10 percent less than straight men. But researchers at Vanderbilt University found that the earnings deficit for gay men disappeared and they now earn an average of 10 percent more than straight men with similar education, experience and job profiles.
Kitt Carpenter, a professor of economics at Vanderbilt University who co-authored the study, said he was taken aback by the findings due to large body of data that showed gay men earn less than straight men.
"We double- and triple-checked the dataset for other patterns that would indicate some fundamental error or data problem. We found none," he wrote in the Harvard Business Review. "We subjected the gay male earnings premium to a host of extra tests to see if we could make the result go away. We could not."
Carpenter said there's not yet enough data to determine why gay men earn more than straight men. He pointed to the wider acceptance of the LGBT community, including initiatives like the "It Gets Better" project, but has doubts that more acceptance could explain why gay men are getting paid more than straight men instead of equal pay.
The Vanderbilt University economist who does extensive work on LGBT issues said another reason for the higher pay could be more families headed by two gay men due to the legalization of gay marriage.
"A gay male couple who gets married may have one partner select out of the workforce to focus on caregiving responsibilities; this might make the other partner more productive at work, resulting in relative improvements in gay men's earnings relative to those of straight men," he said.
He added: "If the relatively lower earning partner systematically selects out of the labor market, this productivity effect would be compounded by a compositional change in the sample of relatively higher earning gay men we observe working."