The Latest data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau shows same-sex married couples are less likely than heterosexual couples to be the same age and the same race, according to the 2021 one-year American Community Survey. The survey also revealed same-sex partners are also more likely to have similar income and education levels in comparison to opposite-sex couples.
In many years prior to any known studies, married opposite sex couples were historically more likely to share the same demographics, such as race and ethnicity, income and age. This phenomenon — known as homogamy — was previously studied in the U.S. in 1999 and 2000, over 15 years prior to same-sex marriage legalization. The 2000 study showed same-sex male couples were less likely to have a homogamous pairing than their heterosexual counterparts.
Over 80 percent of opposite-sex couples have a spouse of the same race while 66 percent of same-sex couples are the same race. On a similar note, 35 percent of adults in opposite-sex relationships have an age difference of less than two years while in same-sex couples the rate is 24 percent. Around 18 percent of opposite-sex couples and 21 percent of same-sex couples have spouses with incomes within $10,000 of one another.
Same-sex spouses are also more likely to have larger age gaps in comparison to opposite-sex couples. According to the 2021 one-year American Community Survey, five percent of same-sex couples have an age difference of over 20 years compared to the one percent of opposite sex couples.
If they’re Hispanic, opposite-sex relationships are also more likely to share the same origin (94 percent) than same-sex couples (86 percent). According to the U.S. Census Bureau:
“Combining race and Hispanic origin status reveals the same pattern: 80 percent of opposite-sex married couples involved spouses who share race and Hispanic origin, whereas two-thirds (66 percent) of same-sex couples did so.”
Men in same-sex relationships were also statistically more likely (24 percent) to be born outside of the U.S. than their heterosexual peers (21 percent). For women, however, it’s the other way around: 21 percent of women in opposite-sex marriages were born outside of the U.S. compared to the 10 percent in same-sex relationships.
Same-sex spouses are also statistically more likely to earn within $10,000 annually of one another at a rate of 21 percent in comparison to heterosexual couples at 18 percent. Opposite-sex couples, on the other hand, are more likely to have income gaps exceeding $50,000 at a rate of 37 percent, which can be more impacting if one or both spouses have lower socioeconomic status.
The Pew Research Center’s study revealed men in same-sex marriages also have a higher income than their heterosexual counterparts. The median annual household income for men in same-sex marriages was roughly $132,300 in 2019, which was significantly higher than the median income for men in opposite-sex marriages at $90,700.
There is also an income gap between women in same-sex and opposite-sex marriages, but the gap itself is less drastic with same-sex marriages having a median income of roughly $101,900 and about $91,100 for women in opposite-sex marriages.
Heterosexual men, however, are more likely to be employed at a rate of 89 percent compared to gay men (80 percent). For women it’s the opposite: women in same-sex marriages (76 percent) are more likely to be employed than their straight counterparts in opposite-sex couplings (72 percent).
It’s more likely for both spouses in a same-sex marriage to have a bachelor’s degree as their highest education obtained — 37 percent — in comparison to heterosexual couples, which sit at a rate of 28 percent.
The Pew Research Center released a report in 2021 which found men in same-sex relationships had higher levels of education and higher incomes than men in heterosexual relationships. Over 50 percent of men in same-sex marriages have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 38 percent of straight men. Meanwhile for women, the data is fairly consistent: women in same-sex marriages hold bachelor’s degrees at a rate of 47 percent while women in heterosexual marriages have a bachelor’s degree at a rate of 45 percent.