Study: 24% of LGBTQ adults in the South live in poverty

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Image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay

LOS ANGELES — A new study by the Williams Institute has found that LGBTQ people have a higher rate of poverty than straight people nationwide, but with the highest rate in the South.

In the South, 24% of LGBT adults are living in poverty. The Midwest had the second highest rate at 23%.

In addition to poverty rates, the study examined social statuses that traditionally contribute to economic stability, including gender, race, age, and urban-rural residence in some states.

“There is so much more to learn about LGBT poverty in individual states,” said lead author Soon Kyu Choi, project manager at the Williams Institute, said in a press release. “We need to better understand the connection between differing poverty rates across states with variations in LGBT related public policies and public attitudes that may limit economic opportunities for LGBT people.”

Findings for the Midwest include:

  • LGBTQ people have higher poverty rates than cisgender straight people in all eight states.
  • Transgender people have higher poverty rates than do cisgender men in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Ohio.
  • LGBTQ people of color have higher poverty rates than white LGBTQ people in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio.

“This study provides a foundation for understanding LGBT poverty by state. But, clearly more data are needed in the states that are not yet collecting SOGI data,” said study author Bianca Wilson, senior scholar of public policy at the Institute. “As more states begin to include these critical questions on all of their surveys, we can provide nuanced analyses that inform effective policies and interventions that meet the needs of LGBT people in specific states.”

This study is part of the Pathways to Justice Project, a long-term project at the Williams Institute examining poverty rates, personal narratives, and experiences with economic development and food insecurity services among LGBTQ people.

Williams Institute researchers analyzed data from the 2014-2017 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a health survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that collects state data on health-related risk factors and conditions among adults. 

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