This three part series takes a look at the Prudential LGBT Financial Experience Research Studies of 2013 and 2016. Analyzing demographics, data and expectations derived from the studies this series will deliver a high level look at how LGBT in each of the four primary groups is faring financially and how we have changed in the past three years. Visit SFGN.com/Prudential to read the series.
Prudential has released results from its 2016 LGBT Financial Experience Survey, the first since last years Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriage in all states.
This newest survey identifies changes since the original survey completed in 2012, before same sex marriages became available nationally. Interestingly, same sex couples doubled in the four-year span. Half of the respondents acknowledged that same sex marriage has made their finances easier, a number that was only 13 percent in 2012.
The 2016 survey includes LGBT respondents from all fifty states; the LGBT population is distributed evenly across the nation with there being no greater likelihood of a higher LBGT population neither in states with more inclusive policies, nor in urban areas with larger populations. We are everywhere. In 2012, 9 percent lived with parents, today 18 percent do.
In four years the LGBT community has changed a great deal. Our marriage rate is up from just 8 to 30 percent, more than tripling. Our right to marriage and its attendant benefits has changed the way we manage our finances with our new ability to file joint tax returns, take advantage of pre tax spousal health insurance and transfer assets on death.
In 2012 there were 15 percent of LGBT persons with children, and now 39 percent are parents. Getting married is often a first step to a family and more lesbians have children under 18 than gay men, 23 vs. just 7 percent. However, of Gen Ys 11 percent already have children and nearly half plan on a family in the future. Children are a big fiscal responsibility and more LGBT are taking that step.
Respondents to the Prudential study are Millennial heavy with fewer Boomers than the general population. Though Prudential gives no explanation for the disparity skewing the average age of LBGT by five years less than the general population, those of us who lived through the 1980’s know the LGBT community lost most of a generation in the HIV epidemic.
In the 2012 survey LGBT people were more concerned about equality over economics and in 2016 flipped that becoming more concerned about state and national financial direction and less concerned about LGBT rights issues. We, like the general population, are concerned about equity market volatility and stubbornly low interest rates, a major hidden tax on savers.
Times are changing and we feel differently about how we are doing financially. More of us feel as though we have financial freedom, 15 vs. 2 percent four years ago, yet in 2016 41 percent are struggling vs. 31 percent in 2016. Respondents having a hard time are Millennials and Gen Xs, and the hardship is linked to their work. Double the LGBT Millennials have experienced unemployment than the general population. Like the general population around four in ten say job loss and inflation weights heavily on them and their planning, though LGBT are even more concerned about debt, a dearth of employment opportunities and wage inequity,
Wages are stable over the four years, though those earning $15,000 or less have grown from 12 to 23 percent. Debt has remained stable, about $10,000 non real estate debt per person.
Across all generations participating in the study there is a great deal of anxiety. LGBT persons feel nervous, uncertain and even depressed about their financial future and the anxiety is linked to savings rates, retirement planning and at a base level, employment and wages.
Those who have stable jobs, savings, and a plan for retirement feel more secure about their financial future; access to financial knowledge financial planning and professionals, as always, is important to financial success.
Marriage equality has made our financial lives more predictable, though most LGBT people continue to experience a stagnant economy, a tough job market and lack of financial knowledge.