Chapter 15: Discrimination in gay and lesbian lives
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Less than 15 years ago, in an article in Feminist Economics, Marieka Klawitter (1998) posed the timely question: ‘Why aren’t more economists doing research on sexual orientation?’. Indeed, before her article was published there were only two economic studies that examined issues of sexual orientation. Since her appeal, the economic literature on sexual orientation has grown substantially. A number of reasons may explain this development. First, there is a heightened awareness that discrimination against gays and lesbians is of great political concern. In 2000, the European Union introduced the Employment Equality Directive (2000/78/EC) that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in the private and the public sector. In the US, since the late 1990svarious states and cities have introduced bans on employment discrimination of gays and lesbians. President Bill Clinton’s 1998 Executive Order 13087 prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in civilian federal employment (Badgett, 2007). Since labor market discrimination against gays and lesbians has been on the political agenda, it is no surprise that this issue has gained particular prominence in the economic literature. However, there may also be pragmatic reasons why economic research on sexual orientation has picked up only recently. More data sources are available that allow the identification of gays and lesbians because surveys increasingly ask questions on sexual orientation and behavior. In addition, experiments have become more popular in economic research and have been used to create ‘data’ on discrimination in spheres usually not available, such as housing.

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