The FINANCIAL — A major study of sexual minorities in the UK and Australia shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are significantly less satisfied with their lives than heterosexuals.
The findings, by researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Melbourne, have been published in the Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation.
Using data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (33,000 people) and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (12,400 people), the study also reveals some key differences in life satisfaction between both countries among the LGB communities.
The top line findings are:
Bisexuals in both countries are the least satisfied with life and report worse health outcomes but gay and lesbian people in Australia report better life satisfaction than their UK counterparts;
With the exception of gays and lesbians, bisexuals and other sexual minorities in the UK and Australia tend to be from lower income households and are less likely to be employed than heterosexuals;
Gay and lesbians in Australia are as healthy as heterosexuals, but there is a larger differential in health among gay and lesbian individuals in the UK when compared to heterosexuals;
Findings suggest that the social stigma surrounding gay and lesbians in Australia has dropped markedly and is now largely absent;
There is little evidence that lesbian women in the UK have lower levels of life satisfaction than heterosexual women – this stands in marked contrast to gay men in the UK and in Australia and lesbian women in Australia;
Older gay, lesbians and bisexuals do not report a lower life satisfaction to the same degree as their younger counterparts, suggesting that a) they have fewer hardships; b) they have come to terms with and adjusted to any stigma and discrimination; or c) they may be more likely to misrepresent their sexual orientation than younger GLBs.
Lead author, Professor Nick Powdthavee from LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance, said there was a particularly large differential in life satisfaction of gay and heterosexual men in the United Kingdom.
“There is, however, relatively little evidence that lesbian women in the UK have lower levels of life satisfaction than their heterosexual counterparts. This stands in marked contrast to both gay men in the UK and lesbian women in Australia,” he said.