(UPDATED) Richard Florida aggressively posits that neighbourhoods and cities that welcome gay residents are the most creative and flush with cash. (When criticized for such statements, he commissions new research and publishes that. He intensifies his point.) Florida is, of course, the name-brand analyst who believes nail-salon operators and baristas are “creative,” hence part of the “creative economy”. Nonetheless, is it really is in dispute that gay populations and creativity correlate?

But this likable self-promoter and millionaire can and did take things too far, as he did when he claimed the following: “As [Gary] Gates and I have pointed out elsewhere, the presence of [gay] people isn’t a sufficient condition for wealth creation in and of itself; gay men and lesbians are no more… economically productive… than any other group on average.”

Gary Gates knows full well that this statement is false, based on the preponderance of evidence from U.S., Canadian, Swedish, and Dutch data sources, most of which show significant earnings penalties for gay men and even more significant earnings premia for lesbians. To state this another way, gay males earn less money than straight guys and lesbians earn more money than straight girls.

(U.K. data shows no difference for males but shows a premium for lesbians. One U.S. paper [Carpenter 2005] shows no difference for either group. One paper on Australian data [Carpenter 2008] shows an earnings penalty for lesbians. The trend, however, among all research specifically on the U.S. and Canada, conforms to what I have stated above.)

Gary Gates is quite aware of this trend, having written or cowritten at least two papers I know of on the topic of lesbian and gay economics, about which I am writing the sole annotated bibliography.

Florida’s statement reeks of a “Gays are people too!” blandishment and mythmaking; it has no basis in fact. With the armies of research assistants who do the bulk of his work, and with Gates as collaborator, how did Richard Florida manage to make that mistake?

I posed that question to him via electronic mail last month. Kimberly Silk, who I presume is some kind of assistant, read or opened the message, according to the read receipt, but there was no comment since then. (I didn’t ask Gates because he wasn’t the one who made the statement.)


(2010.08.24) Gary Gates wrote in to state his belief that, when all economic factors are taken into account, Florida’s statement is accurate. I wrote back stating that I disagree for the simple reason that the mainstream reader of the Daily Beast will invariably interpret “economic productivity” as wages or earnings, which are lower for gay males and usually higher for lesbians. Neither of those reported effects is reconcilable with the statement “gay men and lesbians are no more… economically productive… than any other group on average.” Civilian readers of a general-interest news blog will not be Ph.D.s in economics who understand that economics encompasses more than money.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.08.12 16:05. 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:

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