The social integration of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals: Exploring the role of the municipal context

Soc Sci Res. 2019 Nov;84:102320. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2019.06.011. Epub 2019 Jul 3.


This paper examines possible differences between lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGBs) compared to heterosexuals with respect to their integration into the residential neighbourhood. By means of a multi-level analysis, we examine if there is a gap in social integration between LGBs compared to heterosexuals, and if so, to what extent municipality characteristics can account for variations in this gap. Specifically, we test a cultural hypothesis (i.e., how liberal or conservative the cultural climate is) and a social hypothesis (i.e., how large the share of LGBs is). In total, we analyse 7,320 LGBs and 114,298 heterosexual respondents from four pooled waves of the Dutch Safety Monitor (2012-2015). We link these individual level data to an external survey, which allows the measurement of the cultural climate in each municipality. Overall, we found little evidence that there is an integration gap between LGBs and heterosexuals in the Netherlands as a whole. We find some support for the social hypothesis and no support for the cultural hypothesis. The analyses highlight the particular role of Amsterdam. While both heterosexuals and LGBs are less integrated in Amsterdam compared to less urbanized areas, this is more so the case for heterosexuals. The social integration among LGBs does not drop as sharply as it does among heterosexuals, suggesting that LGBs also benefit socially from living in Amsterdam.

Keywords: Multi-level; Neighbourhood; Sexual orientation; Social context; Social integration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Social Integration*
  • Urban Population*