Background Socioeconomic status (SES) is a fundamental contributor to health; however, limited research has examined sexual orientation differences in SES.
Methods 2008–2009 data from 14 051 participants (ages 24–32 years) in the US-based, representative, National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health were analysed using multivariable regressions that adjusted for age, race-ethnicity, childhood SES, urbanicity and Census region, separately for females and males. Modification by racial minority status (black or Latino vs white, non-Hispanic) was also explored.
Results Among females, sexual minorities (SM) (10.5% of females) were less likely to graduate college, and were more likely to be unemployed, poor/near poor, to receive public assistance and to report economic hardship and lower social status than heterosexuals. Adjusting for education attenuated many of these differences. Among males, SM (4.2% of males) were more likely than heterosexuals to be college graduates; however, they also had lower personal incomes. Lower rates of homeownership were observed among SM, particularly racial minority SM females. For males, household poverty patterns differed by race-ethnicity: among racial minority males, SM were more likely than heterosexuals to be living at >400% federal poverty level), whereas the pattern was reversed among whites.
Conclusions Sexual minorities, especially females, are of lower SES than their heterosexual counterparts. SES should be considered a potential mediator of SM stigma on health. Studies of public policies that may produce, as well as mitigate, observed SES inequities, are warranted.
- social inequalities
- health inequalities
- social science
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