How Accepting LGBT People Boosts the Economy and Strengthens Neighborhoods

There are many factors you may consider when picking a place to live. How expensive is it? Is it accessible to public transportation? How many bedrooms? Is the neighborhood nice? Perhaps, in light of the recent hate crimes against LGBT people, LGBT home buyers may base their decision on whether or not the neighborhood is LGBT-friendly.

But it turns out, straight people should be considering how gay-friendly the neighborhood is, too. A neighborhood’s gay population doesn’t only determine how safe it is for LGBT people — it also affects house prices.

According to research by Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander, neighborhoods with high populations of gay people are more likely to be on the upswing in terms of market values. They created a bohemian-gay index for 331 metropolitan regions in the U.S. The index measured the concentration of creative class individuals, including artists, bohemians, and gay people. They found a positive effect — after controlling for higher incomes, education levels, or population levels, a higher concentration of the creative class did correlate with higher house prices.

So why does a high gay population affect housing prices? Could their research actually be accurate?

Researchers suggest that an increased supply of creative class people improves the aesthetics of a neighborhood, making it more appealing to others. That might be a tough point to sell. How many gay people — or even artists — actually do things to improve their neighborhood’s appearance? Probably some, but could it be that substantial?

The second argument makes a lot more sense. The researchers argued that the same thing that attracts artists and gay people is a quality that helps economic growth — acceptance. An accepting culture means that employers are more likely to hire the best workers instead of only hiring straight workers or other “normal” workers. Acceptance also promotes creative expression, which helps productivity by encouraging innovation. This productivity then increases incomes, which helps drive house prices up.

So perhaps closed-minded homophobic people should keep this in mind. Their anti-gay attitudes are decreasing their home values. Anti-gay hatred isn’t just bad for gay people, it’s also bad for the economy.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons