On the heels of Mark Regnerus’ atrocious study of gay parents we have another one, from Canadian economist Douglas Allen. Philip Cohen, a sociologist from the University of Maryland, calls the results of the paper “meaningless” and details all the reasons why on his website analyzing the paper. A couple of the criticisms:
That problem is so bad that you don’t need to worry about the problem of who raised these young adults, which is supposed to be the issue in the first place.
They live with their parents. But for how long have they done that, and for how long have their parents been in gay or lesbian relationships? We can’t know. Allen controls for whether the child has moved in the last year or five years, but we don’t know if the parents moved with them. Controlling for whether they have moved doesn’t address this. A full 60% of the lesbian-mother kids and 39% of the gay-father kids have moved in the last five years, compared with just 24% of the different-sex-married-parent kids. Their life stories are in these mobility histories, and the paper can’t say anything about that.
The paper says the children of gay and lesbian parents are “65% as likely to graduate,” a number Regnerus repeats, and Allen repeated in an interview. That’s just preying on the public, who don’t understand that in odds ratios (which I’ve discussed this here), that number would be even more dramatic if the graduation rates of the two groups were 99 and 96 percent. There is no good way to describe odds ratios, really, but they are useful in statistics. Anyway, the paper does provide the marginal effects, which show that the children living with gay parents have graduated from him school at an adjusted predicted percentage 6 points lower than those living with married different-sex parents, that number for kids of lesbian parents — which is not statistically significant with controls added — is 9 percentage points. But it’s not a meaningful result anyway.
You can expect this to be widely and loudly trumpeted by the anti-gay bigots, just like they keep citing the Regnerus study without considering the many methodological flaws.