Same-sex married couples have a higher median household income than opposite-sex married couples but their poverty rates are not significantly different, according to 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) findings released today.
The ACS asks respondents their relationship to the householder (person who rents or owns a home and whose name is on the deed/lease). Until last year, respondents could only identify themselves as a spouse or an unmarried partner (sometimes referred to as cohabiting couple).
Overall, same-sex married couples had a higher median household income than opposite-sex married couples: $107,200 and $96,930, respectively.
To improve the measurement of same-sex couples, the 2019 ACS separated each of these categories so respondents could specify whether these were opposite- or same-sex relationships. In this analysis, we only consider married couples that include the householder.
In 2019, same-sex married couples accounted for just 1.0% of married-couple households in the United States.
This small share is partly due to fewer same-sex relationships overall, which are also low among unmarried partners (5.1%).
Lower marriage rates among same-sex households also contribute: 88% of opposite-sex- and 58% of same-sex-couple households were married.
Among same-sex married-couple households, 47% were male couples and 53% were female couples.
How do household income and poverty status differ among these married couples?
As shown in Figure 2, poverty rates between opposite-sex and same-sex married-couple households in 2019 (4.2% and 3.9%, respectively) did not differ significantly. However, there were significant differences when same-sex married couple households were compared by gender:
The difference in poverty rates by gender may in part be due to differences in family structure, such as the presence of children in the household:
In 2019, 14% of same-sex married-couple households had a householder age 65 or older, compared to 25% of opposite-sex married couples.
As shown in Figure 3:
In Figure 4:
How do household income and poverty rates between opposite- and same-sex married couples compare at smaller geographic levels? Given the low number of same-sex married couples, we can best answer this question by looking at Census divisions.
As shown in Figure 5:
Figure 6 shows the difference in poverty rates for opposite-sex and same-sex married-couple households. The poverty rate for same-sex married-couple households is:
The maps in Figures 5 and 6 appear to have disparate results. However:
Brian Glassman is an economist in the Poverty Statistics Branch in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Social Economic and Housing Statistics Division.
Our email newsletter is sent out on the day we publish a story. Get an alert directly in your inbox to read, share and blog about our newest stories.
America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, health, population, income and poverty.
Contact our Public Information Office for media inquiries or interviews.