What are the demographics of West Hollywood’s gay couples?
This is the second part of our search for Census information on the gay male community in West Hollywood. In the first part, we estimated how many gay men and gay couples (married and unmarried) live in the city. In this report, we dive deep into the demographics of those gay couples. The numbers come with three caveats:
- The West Hollywood numbers also include Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills West. That’s the smallest area for which the US Census Bureau shares their most granular data.
- There’s a lot of uncertainty around the statistics for local gay couples, because of the small sample size (68 couples over four years).
- Opposite-sex couples sometimes accidentally mismark one partner’s sex and end up in the same-sex data.
We found diversity on most dimensions among the male couples of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood Hills West. We needed some kind of average to do comparisons. We picked the median, which is the middle or 50th percentile value.
The median local man in a gay couple is 39, which is five years younger or older than his husband/partner. He comes from another state. He is non-Latino white. He is college-educated and employed. He and his husband/partner make over $100,000 combined and rent their home. They don’t have children.
If we compare gay and straight couples locally, the gay spouses/partners are younger and more often US-born. The straight couples are more likely to have children and only one spouse/partner working.
If we compare gay couples locally to those in the Los Angeles region and California as a whole, the local spouses/partners are younger and more often non-Latino white. The regional and California couples are more likely to be parents and homeowners.
The chart below shows the distribution of ages for local gay spouses/partners. It’s an estimate and there’s a fair amount of uncertainty because of the small sample size (136 men).
The largest group is in their late 20s. The number slowly declines from the early 30s through the early 60s. The median age is 39. That means half are younger and half are older. The average age is 42.
Local gay couples are younger than local straight couples (median of 39 versus 47). They’re also younger than gay and straight couples in the region and the state as a whole (39 versus 48 or so).
The chart below shows the ages for each of the 68 local gay couples in our sample. The median age difference is five years. The age differences are fairly similar for local straight couples and other gay couples. Straight couples in the region and state tend to have smaller age differences.
Only a quarter of the men in local gay couples are native Californians. Half are from other states. A quarter are from other countries.
In over 50% of gay couples locally, regionally, and statewide, both spouses/partners were born in another state or country. The same is true for straight couples regionally and statewide. The rate is even higher for local straight couples, over 70%. We assume that is due to Russian couples in West Hollywood and Iranian couples in Beverly Hills.
Race and Latino origin
About 75% of local gay spouses/partners are non-Latino white. We can’t tell if that’s really lower than the 80% or so for local straight spouses/partners, because of the small sample size. For gay spouses/partners in the region and state, the estimates are around 60%. For straight spouses/partners in the region and state, the numbers are about roughly 35% and 45%.
We don’t have the same metric for the US as a whole. We do know that gay couples locally and nationally have similar percentages of householders who are non-Latino white. “Householder” is the Census Bureau term for the first person listed in each household.
Gay couples are much more likely to be interracial or Latino-non-Latino than straight couples. That’s true locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally. Mixed couples are close to 30% of gay couples here and almost 40% in the region and the state. The corresponding numbers for straight couples are less than 20%.
We have national numbers for interracial couples only. Interracial couples are 18% of male couples, compared to 8% of opposite-sex couples.
None of the 68 male couples in our sample had children at home. The rate is around 10% for male couples in the region, state, and country. The rate is six times higher for opposite-sex couples in the region and state. Local opposite-sex couples are significantly less likely to have children in the home, but more likely than male couples.
An estimated 60% of local gay spouses/partners have a bachelor’s degree or more. The other 40% have less education, such as a high school diploma or some college. The college-educated rates are in the same range for local straight spouses/partners and gay spouses/partners in the region and state.
Looking at the US, California, and the Los Angeles region, a bigger share of male couples than opposite-sex couples have two college-educated spouses/partners. That’s not true locally. The number is about 40% here for gay couples versus 50% for straight couples, though the sample size is small.
Gay couples are more likely to have both spouses/partners employed. That is true for almost 70% of local gay couples, compared to about 50% for opposite-sex couples locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally. The number is generally around 60% for gay couples.
Statistically speaking, the both-work difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples is associated with sex rather than sexual orientation. By our estimates, men in same-sex couples and men in opposite-sex couples are equally likely to be employed. However, the women in opposite-sex couples are less likely to be employed than the men.
In general, median household incomes appear to be higher for male couples than opposite-sex couples. For example, in the Los Angeles region, it’s a $40,000 difference. However, in the local area, the median income for male couples may actually be lower. It is about $115,000 in our sample, compared to $135,000 for the opposite-sex couples. We can’t be sure the difference is real, because of the small sample size.
In our sample of local gay couples, over 60% are renters. The calculation includes couples from Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills West who are probably more likely to own their homes. So a pure West Hollywood number would be higher than 60%. For comparison, about 80% of all residents in West Hollywood are renters.
In the Los Angeles region, roughly 40% of both male and opposite-sex couples rent. The number is closer to 35% for California. For the country as a whole, only a quarter of opposite-sex couples rent, but a third of male couples do.
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