5. Labour Market and Qualifications
i. Summary of Scottish Survey Core Questions 2015 Data
This section provides an overview of labour market outcomes and qualifications for lesbian, gay, bisexual and other adults. It provides some key statistics from the SSCQ 2015 data and then a brief overview of the literature on sexual orientation and labour market and qualifications.
Figure 11: Sexual Orientation by Economic Activity - Scotland 2015
Source: Scottish Surveys Core Questions 2015
Figure 11 shows that LGBO adults were more likely to be unemployed in 2015 than heterosexual adults. The unemployment rate for LGB and Other adults was more than three times higher than the rate for heterosexual adults (11 per cent and three per cent respectively). When the data was age-standardised the difference was reduced (eight and three per cent respectively).
LGBO adults were also less likely to be employed - only 53 per cent were in employment compared to 57 per cent of heterosexual adults. This gap increased with age-standardisation (to 49 and 57 per cent respectively).
Figure 12: Sexual Orientation by Qualifications - Scotland 2015
Source: Scottish Survey Core Questions 2015
Figure 12 shows that LGBO adults were also more likely to have further or higher education qualifications. 32 per cent had a Level 4 (degree level) qualification compared to 30 per cent of heterosexual adults. When the data was age-standardised this gap widened (35 and 30 per cent respectively).
ii. Summary of Literature on Sexual Orientation and Labour Market and Qualifications
Some research contrasts with the latest SSCQ results and indicates that LGB men and women do not differ from heterosexual people in relation to employment, or show better outcomes. For example, some research indicates that LGB people may have similar rates of employment to heterosexual people, with older LGB age groups having higher rates of employment (Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016). People in same sex couple households were shown to be more likely to hold professional, administration or managerial jobs (59 per cent) than heterosexual men (40 per cent) or heterosexual women (37 per cent) in 2004/05 (Li et al, 2008 in Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016: 73). However it should be noted that the latest data from the SSCQ does not fit with some of these findings as the 2015 data showed that unemployment was higher for LGBO adults.
Li et al (2008, in Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016: 74) found that the earnings for people in same sex marriages were equivalent to those in opposite sex marriages, particularly when factors such as education were controlled for. Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf (2016: 75) cite other studies which found that LGB people earn more than heterosexual people. However, they also highlighted that heterosexual men benefit more in terms of earnings from being married, so the relationship between sexual orientation and earnings appears inconclusive.
Despite studies showing equal or better pay for LGB people, there are a number of studies which indicate that they still experience discrimination in the workplace. For example, 19 per cent of people reported being discriminated against at work in the UK because they were LGB&T (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights ( FRA), 2014 in Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016: 77).
There is also evidence that discrimination can be experienced by LGB groups in education. In the UK, 86 per cent of secondary school teachers surveyed reported that their pupils were subject to homophobic bullying (Stonewall, 2014b:1). There has also been some lack of clarity as to the expectations on teachers in relation to teaching about LGB and same sex families, with 39 per cent of primary teachers in the UK saying they are not allowed to teach about LGB people and 37 per cent not clear if they are allowed (Stonewall, 2014b: 8).
Email: Jon Hunter