You can choose compassion

Another month, another round of refutations of factually unfounded claims that gays are rich.

  • Seattle’s “LGBT community has more disposable income than the general population” (nope).

  • A Christopher St. bar owner – no, that’s actually the Christopher Street Bar in St. Petersburg, Florida – “note[d] that companies are embracing the gay community’s higher-than-average disposable income. Coca Cola, JetBlue Airways, Macy’s and Wells Fargo are just some of the big names sponsoring the event.” It’s fine they’re advertising, but is there a real reason why?

  • Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic listed several “advantages to the gay-male lifestyle [sic], such as: disposable income, sex with a lot of different people, and more disposable income.” I asked, but he didn’t explain why he got two of those three “advantages” wrong.

  • Now, here’s a tricky case. For one thing, it involves statements from a mayor – Kathy DeRosa, mayor of Cathedral City, California, in bustling metropolitan Palm Springs.

    DeRosa said one potential benefit of the high concentration of same-sex couples is that because many of them aren’t raising children, they have more disposable income to spend in the city.

    According to the Census data, 79% of same-sex couples living together in California are not raising children.

    The problem here is that Palm Springs definitely will not hew to the California average in this regard. It will surely be home to a higher number of middle-aged-or-older gay couples, particularly males, who in turn will be even less likely to have children.

    I wrote DeRosa a message stating that her city probably does have a higher-income gay population than is typical, mostly due to the self-selection process by which relatively affluent gay couples choose idyllic Palm Springs as a retirement location. (She didn’t respond.)

    In fact, now that I think of it, Palm Springs and Fort Lauderdale are almost certainly two of, say, the top five U.S. cities in terms of proportion of high-income gay couples. But I mean gay, not lesbian, and they’ll almost all be older.

    By the way, Durango, Texas is also trying to attract the gay tourist dollar. I suppose some gays might vaguely want to visit small-town Texas, yes, but it won’t be because “they tend to comprise a higher percentage of DINKs – dual income, no kids – and have a lot more disposable income,” as tourism head John Cohen stated. (I asked, but he didn’t elucidate.)

  • Fagonomics, schmagonomics: “In Tel Aviv, gay pride pays off”: “All studies conducted in recent years prove that the gay tourist brings in
    the biggest proceeds, with a higher disposable income.” I asked them to prove it and they didn’t bother.

  • What about the phenomenon Americans insist on calling “gay marriage”? Isn’t that a cash bonanza? Actually, yes, according to M.V. Lee Badgett et al.’s research. But it won’t be because gays are rich; it will be due to enlargement of the pool of consumers choosing to marry.

    • New York gay-marriage bill: Event industry expects ‘enormous impact’ ”: “The gay community typically has a higher rate of disposable income and the
      innate ability to entertain [continues in this vein]

    • Billion-dollar gay-wedding boost”:

      The same number of people have been getting married every year for the last 20 years,” says Carley Roney, cofounder and editor in chief of the Knot, a wedding-planning site. “Gay marriage is literally the only thing that has the potential to change the size of the wedding industry.”

      Correct, if exaggerated. But this isn’t correct (and is also exaggerated): “[S]ame-sex households tend to have more disposable income and a higher median income.”

      I wondered where their figures came from. I asked the publicist for the holding company that owns the Knot (note how far away we already are from the actual article), Jacalyn Lee. “The stats in the article came from the U.S. Census Bureau,” she replied, pointing to Williams Institute research (PDF) as the reporter of the data.

      A reasonable place to look, except for the fact that U.S. census aggregate data does not control for millionaires, the presence of only a few of which can deform the statistics for a relatively small group like this one.

      It just isn’t reliable to state that higher incomes (inflated by a few extreme values mixed in) result in “more disposable income.” (The underlying claim about higher incomes is also unreliable.)

  • Did you know that diversity equals dollars – and love? So claims a Gazette blog by Jillian Page. She and I had a perfectly reasonable (if, on her part, top-posted) E-mail discussion about the underlying facts. Ultimately she agreed the statement in her piece –

    I was reading an article from 2009 [not cited!] about disposable income in the U.S. gay community. We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars (I don’t have a precise figure, though I have seen $700 billion quoted in several articles).

    – can’t really be backed up by the evidence.

Will this be going on forever, I wonder?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.07.20 14:28. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
http://blog.fawny.org/2011/07/20/twif4/

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