# Age distribution among same-sex couples

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

In this post, we will investigate the demographic features of same-sex couples. We will once again use American Community Survey data, namely the ACS 2015 five-year sample processed by the IPUMS project. In this version, IPUMS USA has introduced a specially-constructed variable to their version of the American Community Survey. Using answers to different questions of the survey form, they attempt to pinpoint the location of the respondent’s potential spouse in the same household. This allows us to identify both same- and opposite-sex couples.

## Age distribution in couples

On the first graph, we plot the age distributions of people in different types of relationships; the plot is presented as a normed histogram. You may quickly notice that the distributions are quite different. People younger than 35 and middle-aged people (around 50 years old) are the dominant age groups for same-sex relationships. The proportion of older couples is much higher in opposite-sex relationships. Around 26 percent of people in opposite-sex couples are older than 60, while only 18 percent of people in same-sex relationships have reached that age.

The median age of same-sex couples is 46, while 49 is the median age for opposite-sex couples.

## Age difference in couples

A gap between partners’ ages in a relationship may be a sensitive topic. It can be affected by an individual’s cultural background, traditions and other circumstances. On the next graph, we plot the distribution of the age differences among different types of couples. Remember, however, that we considered all couples that were living together at the time of the survey and not just married couples.

Again, the distributions look different. This time, for same-sex couples, the tail is heavier. This means that large age gaps between partners are more common in opposite-sex relationships. The median age difference is four years for same-sex couples and three years for opposite-sex couples. Nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples have an age gap of more than seven years. For opposite-sex couples, this number is only 15 percent.