Levine, A. (2022). Sexualities and Geographic Mobility Between Childhood and Adulthood in the United States. Demography.
Though research suggests that sexual minorities (e.g., nonheterosexual individuals) are more geographically mobile in the transition to adulthood than their heterosexual counterparts, quantitative estimates are rare and previously used data sources have significant limitations. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 11,705) that directly measure sexualities across dimensions (i.e., identity, behavior, and attraction), I examine variation in geographic mobility between childhood (ages 11-17) and adulthood (ages 26-34) across various sexualities (e.g., gay/lesbian and bisexual). Three findings emerge. First, mobility varies across sexualities. Individuals with gay/lesbian identity, same-sex behavior, and same-sex attraction are more geographically mobile than individuals with heterosexual identity, different-sex behavior, and different-sex attraction, respectively. By contrast, individuals with bisexual identity, both-sex behavior, and both-sex attraction tend to be statistically indistinct from individuals with heterosexual identity, different-sex behavior, and different-sex attraction, respectively. Second, mobility differences are largest and most prevalent when sexualities are operationalized according to identity. Third, evidence suggests that the effects of gay/lesbian identity, same-sex behavior, and same-sex attraction on mobility are larger for men than for women. In providing the first quantitative estimates of geographic mobility differences across broader sexual minority and heterosexual populations, this study expands inquiry related to sexualities and mobility.