Men in same-sex marriages tend to earn significantly more than their lesbian or heterosexual counterparts, according to new data released this week by the U.S. Treasury Department. Gay men had an average household income of $176,000 in 2014, $52,000 more than lesbian couples and $63,000 more than opposite-sex couples.
The Treasury Department's first-ever look at tax returns for same-sex couples adds a new element to research on the ways gender and geography affect earnings. Same-sex couples, for example, tend to live on the coast and in major metropolitan areas, where average earnings tend to be higher than other parts of the country. For male couples, that geographic earnings premium helps explain why heterosexual couples earn 36% less. Lesbian couples, on the other hand, only top heterosexual couples' average income by a narrower 9.7%—and when you compare lesbian couples to heterosexual couples in the same zip code, that advantage disappears.
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That's in part because of the gender pay gap, according to an Upshot story in the New York Times, which affects only one half of a couple's income in a heterosexual couple. Child care expenses also play a role. Same-sex female couples are four times more likely than same-sex male couples to have children.
One group where incomes are remarkably higher than peers: same-sex married men with children report average earnings of $275,000, more than double that of same-sex female and heterosexual couples. That's probably because it's a self-selecting group. In order to become parents, male couples have to be able to afford adoptions, which can top $30,000, Upshot reports.