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Bisexual people have lower life satisfaction, study shows

Gareth Williams August 18, 2015

A recent study focusing on the ‘life satisfaction’ of sexual minorities discovered that bisexual people have a lower life satisfaction than most.

The study – run by the London School of Economics and the University of Melbourne – analysed two data sets of over 45,000 people – covering different ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations from the UK and Australia.

Professor Nick Powdthavee – from LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance – told PinkNews: “This is one of the first times when we’ve managed to get data on sexual orientations of people in the UK and Australia as a national representative stat.

“We know relatively little about the life satisfaction of LGBT folk and people who prefer not to identify their sexual orientation.” He added.

According to the study, 1.8% of Australians aged 16-85 identify as LGBT whilst in the UK it ranges between 1.5-1.6% (as reported by UK ONS in 2012).

By looking at factors – such as income, employment, health, marriage, children, friendship networks and education – results of the study stated: “Lesbian, gay and bisexual persons are found to be significantly less satisfied with their lives than otherwise comparable heterosexual persons.”

Life satisfaction

The data was collated in 2012 before same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK.

Professor Powdthavee commented on how the life satisfaction difference between heterosexual and LGBT people would’ve been affected by this:

“I would assume that the gap would be closed some what due to the introduction of gay marriage.”

On the subject of legalising same-sex marriage in Australia, he also added: “This is a case for gay marriage in Australia, if we go by the idea that married people on average have a better life.”

Tony Abbott, the Australian PM, has previously threatened to fire people who support same-sex marriage.

One of the glaring results was that generally bisexuals in both the UK and Australia were least satisfied with life.

In regards to mental health, many studies have shown that LGBT people are going to be at a higher risk than they’re heterosexual counterparts.

Researchers support this, saying: “previous studies show that the risks of depression and anxiety disorders, and of alcohol and substance dependence, are at least 1.5 times higher within LBGT populations, and suicide attempts around twice as likely, than in heterosexual populations.”

Differences in results also stemmed from age – not just sexuality.

According to the results, older members of the LGBT community had a higher life satisfaction. The paper implies that they face lesser degrees of hardships or that they “have had more time to learn to cope with and adjust to any stigma and discrimination associated with their sexual identity.”

The latter of these theories might not be accurate – as the paper also suggests that the older LGBT cohorts may be more likely to misreport their sexual identity.

Social stigma has apparently dropped for many of the older LGBT community – so much so that, in Australia, the findings have rated it as “markedly low to the point of largely absent”.

Some factors that weren’t discussed in detail in the paper were factors such as religious activity. According to to the study: “religious activity (as measured by church attendance) has been found to be positively associated with measures of life satisfaction”.

However it notes that in many areas it could be negatively associated with sexual minority status.

 

A recent UK survey found that almost half of young people in the UK would not define themselves as “100% straight”.

YouGov asked 1632 people to plot themselves on a Kinsey scale of sexuality, from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual).

Results showed that just 46% of young people would rank themselves as 0 (exclusively heterosexual) – compared to 49% who picked something else.

 

More: Australia, bisexual, depression, Gay, LGBT, science, UK

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