Published: July 17, 2019

Perales, F., & Huang, Y. (2019). Parental Financial Transfers: Do They Vary by Children’s Sexual Orientation?. Social Forces.


Francisco Perales and Yangtao Huang



Parents often play complex and highly variable roles in the lives of grown-up lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people. Some act as support sources, helping their offspring buffer societal discrimination. Others are unaccepting of—or ambivalent about—their children’s sexual orientation, becoming further stressors. In practice, little research has examined whether parents treat adult LGB children differently than heterosexual children. This study tests this premise in relation to parental financial transfers using two waves of panel data from an Australian national sample (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, n = 18,448 observations) and random-effect panel regression models. We find that parents send money more often to LGB than heterosexual children, a pattern that persists over the adult life course. This association could not be explained by adult children’s socio-economic disadvantage, fertility intentions, parent-child contact, or parent-child distance. These findings suggest that, all else being equal, parental financial investments contribute to narrowing the social disadvantage experienced by Australian LGB people.