Natural experiments

Kevin Lewis

May 25, 2019

Proposition 8 and Homophobic Bullying in California
Mark Hatzenbuehler et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Methods: Data come from 14 consecutive waves (2001–2014) of cross-sectional surveys of students participating in the California Healthy Kids Survey (N = 4 977 557). Student responses were aggregated to the school level (n = 5121). Using a quasi-experimental design, we compared rates of homophobic bullying before and after Proposition 8, a voter referendum that restricted marriage to heterosexuals in November 2008.

Results: Interrupted time series analyses confirmed that the academic year 2008–2009, during which Proposition 8 was passed, served as a turning point in homophobic bullying. The rate of homophobic bullying increased (blinear = 1.15; P < .001) and accelerated (bquadratic = 0.08; P < .001) in the period before Proposition 8. After Proposition 8, homophobic bullying gradually decreased (blinear = −0.28; P < .05). Specificity analyses showed that these trends were not observed among students who reported that they were bullied because of their race and/or ethnicity, religion, or gender but not because of their sexual orientation. Furthermore, the presence of a protective factor specific to school contexts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth (gay-straight alliances) was associated with a smaller increase in homophobic bullying pre–Proposition 8.

An Empirical Analysis of Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Shahar Dillbary & Griffin Edwards
University of Chicago Law Review, January 2019, Pages 1-75

This study is the first to empirically demonstrate widespread discrimination across the United States based on perceived sexual orientation, sex, and race in mortgage lending. Our analysis of over five million mortgage applications reveals that any Fair Housing Administration (FHA) loan application filed by same-sex male co-applicants is significantly less likely to be approved compared to the white heterosexual baseline (holding lending risk constant). The most likely explanation for this pattern is sexual orientation–based discrimination — despite the fact that FHA loans are the only type of loan in which discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited. Moreover, we find compelling evidence to support the intersectionality theory. According to this theory, when sex and race unite, a new form of discrimination emerges that cannot be explained by sexism or racism alone. The data unequivocally indicates that the race and sex of same-sex applicants play a role and result in a unique and previously unobserved pattern. This discriminatory pattern plagues every region in the United States, and it transcends party lines (that is, it is present in red, blue, and swing states). Furthermore, upending conventional wisdom, the data reveals that big banks discriminate at the same rate as small banks, and lenders in urban environments are as discriminatory as rural lenders. Prior studies failed to reveal this phenomenon due to data constraints and design flaws. These studies relied on testers posing as applicants, and none could investigate how intersectionality influences lending practices. Despite the grim results, a silver lining exists. We find that the pattern of discrimination diminishes or disappears in states and localities that pass anti–sexual orientation discrimination laws. These findings have important and timely implications. In 2017, a new bill offering nationwide protection from sexual orientation credit discrimination was introduced. The same year experienced tectonic changes in Title VII jurisprudence. Our study can reinvigorate the debate and help policymakers tailor remedies that would correct the discriminatory pattern this study unravels.

Occupational segregation by sexual orientation in the U.S.: Exploring its economic effects on same-sex couples
Coral del Río & Olga Alonso-Villar
Review of Economics of the Household, June 2019, Pages 439–467

This paper examines the importance of the occupational sorting of individuals in same-sex couples in explaining the economic position of lesbian women and gay men beyond controlling for occupation in the estimation of their respective wage gaps, as usually done in the literature. The analysis reveals that the distribution of partnered gay men across occupations brings them a monetary gain, with respect to the average wage of coupled workers, whereas the occupational sorting of partnered lesbian women only allows them to depart from the large losses that straight partnered women have. The results show that when controlling for educational achievements, immigration profile, racial composition, and age structure, the gain for gay men associated with their occupational sorting shrinks substantially. Moreover, the small gain that lesbian women derive from their distribution across occupations turns into an earning disadvantage when one controls for characteristics. This leaves them with a loss, with respect to the average wage of coupled workers, that is not too different from to the one partnered straight women have. It is their higher educational attainments and, to a lower extent, their lower immigration profile that protects workers in same-sex couples, revealing that gay men do not enjoy the privilege of straight partnered men and that lesbian women are not free from the mark of gender.

School Restroom and Locker Room Restrictions and Sexual Assault Risk Among Transgender Youth
Gabriel Murchison et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Methods: Survey responses were analyzed from 3673 transgender and nonbinary US adolescents in grades 7 through 12 who participated in the cross-sectional 2017 LGBTQ Teen Study. We estimated the association between school restroom and locker room restrictions and sexual assault, adjusting for potential social and behavioral confounders, using logistic regression. We also tested potential mediators.

Results: The 12-month prevalence of sexual assault was 26.5% among transgender boys, 27.0% among nonbinary youth assigned female at birth, 18.5% among transgender girls, and 17.6% among nonbinary youth assigned male at birth. Youth whose restroom and locker room use was restricted were more likely to experience sexual assault compared with those without restrictions, with risk ratios of 1.26 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02–1.52) in transgender boys, 1.42 (95% CI: 1.10–1.78) in nonbinary youth assigned female at birth, and 2.49 (95% CI: 1.11–4.28) in transgender girls. Restrictions were not associated with sexual assault among nonbinary youth assigned male at birth.


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