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Demographics of the Gay and Lesbian Population in the United States: Evidence from Available Systematic Data Sources

Dan Black, Gary Gates, Seth Sanders and Lowell Taylor
Demography
Vol. 37, No. 2 (May, 2000), pp. 139-154
Published by: Springer on behalf of the Population Association of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2648117
Page Count: 16
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Demographics of the Gay and Lesbian Population in the United States: Evidence from Available Systematic Data Sources
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Abstract

This work provides an overview of standard social science data sources that now allow some systematic study of the gay and lesbian population in the United States. For each data source, we consider how sexual orientation can be defined, and we note the potential sample sizes. We give special attention to the important problem of measurement error, especially the extent to which individuals recorded as gay and lesbian are indeed recorded correctly. Our concern is that because gays and lesbians constitute a relatively small fraction of the population, modest measurement problems could lead to serious errors in inference. In examining gays and lesbians in multiple data sets we also achieve a second objective: We provide a set of statistics about this population that is relevant to several current policy debates.

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