• April 2013
  • Vol. 14, No. 3

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Economic Well-Being of LGB Youth in Care

While much research has centered on racial and ethnic differences in the self-sufficiency of youth transitioning from foster care to independent living, less research has been conducted concerning differences related to sexual orientation. An issue brief from Mathematica Policy Research describes the characteristics and economic well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth who age out of foster care.

Data were pulled from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, which followed a sample of youth from Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin through their transition from foster care to independent living. Five waves of survey data were collected between 2002 and 2011. This issue brief focuses on the economic well-being of study participants interviewed at wave 3 when they were 21 years old. Of that sample, 437 identified as heterosexual and 67 as LGB.

Findings included the following:

  • Few statistically significant differences were found regarding living arrangements; approximately 45 percent of both groups were living in their own place.
  • No statistically significant differences were found regarding educational attainment between the two groups.
  • Of LGB respondents, 60 percent were employed at age 21, earning an average of $7.82 an hour. While their heterosexual peers were not more likely to be employed, they were more likely to earn an average of $1 more per hour ($9.04) than the LGB sample. 
  • About 61 percent of LGB respondents, compared to 47 percent of their heterosexual peers, had experienced one of five economic hardships (inability to pay rent, inability to pay utility bills, gas or electric services had been turned off, phone service had been disconnected, or they had been evicted).

The authors note that physical and mental health well-being were not explored in this study, and such outcomes should be examined in future research.

The Youth Demonstration Development issue brief series is funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as part of a larger ACF project to develop research-based frameworks to promote the well-being of at-risk youth.

The Economic Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care, by Amy Dworsky at Chapin Hall, University of Chicago, is available on the ACF website:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/opre_lgbt_brief_01_04_2013.pdf  (954 KB)

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