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Same-Sex Couples More Likely Than Opposite-Sex Couples to Have Both Members Working
U.S. Census Bureau
December 29, 2020

Among all couples (married or unmarried), same-sex couples were more likely than opposite-sex couples to have both members employed in 2019 (65.1% and 51.1%, respectively), according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).

Neither age, marriage, nor the presence of children fully explain why same-sex and opposite-sex couples differ when it comes to employment for both members of the couple.

Potential contributing factors include:

  • Age. Same-sex couples tended to be younger than opposite-sex couples and less likely to have at least one member eligible for retirement. In fact, 26.0% of opposite-sex couples had at least one person 65 years or older compared with 15.6% of same-sex couples.
  • Marital Status. Same-sex couples were more likely to be unmarried (58.0%) than opposite-sex couples (88.3%). Unmarried partners tended to have higher employment rates for both members than their married counterparts.
  • Children. Previous analyses of the Current Population Survey showed a smaller share of same-sex couples had children (14.7%) than opposite-sex couples (37.8%). The presence of young children may influence a couple’s decision to have one parent stay home to care for the children.

The ACS does not identify all couples living together since it only collects information on each household member’s relationship to the householder and not about the relationships between all household members. Still, most couples do include the householder.

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