#IamLGBT: Social Networks and Coming Out

13 October 2022

In recent decades, there has been a marked increase in the number of people disclosing their LGBTQ identity. We propose a model of a game on a network with social learning to investigate the role of peer effects in coming out with decisions. We use newly collected data from two waves of a spontaneous Twitter coming out campaign to empirically test the prediction that observing peers coming out increases the probability of an individual disclosing their LGBTQ identity. We estimate strong and statistically significant peer effects. We find that spreading information about the campaign through networks does not explain the results. Instead, we argue that these effects are due to changes in beliefs about the costs of disclosure.

keywords: LGBTQ; social networks; peer effects; social media; cultural change
JEL codes: 
publication year: 2022
language: english
Publications category: 
publishing series: IBS Working Paper
publication number: WP 06/2022
ISSN: 2451-4373
Additional information:

We are grateful to Luca Bagnato, Marianne Bitler, Paweł Bukowski, Kitt Carpenter, Stefano DellaVigna, Joanna Franaszek, Daniel Hamermesh, Jorge García Hombrados, Philipp Kerler, Iga Magda, Nelson Mesker, Danisz Okulicz, Martha Olney, Tymon Słoczyński, Guo Xu, and Krzysztof Zaremba for constructive discussions. We thank participants at the AEA/ASSA Annual Meeting 2022, EEA-ESEM 2022, (Ce$)^2$ Workshop 2022, the 2021 Discrimination and Diversity Workshop, and the 2021 Workshop on life-changing transitions in the LGBTQ+ community for comments and suggestions. P. Siemaszko acknowledges funding from the National Science Centre through grant no. 2018/29/N/HS4/00890.


SGH Warsaw School of Economics

Institute for Structural Research (IBS), Warsaw School of Economics (SGH), IZA (Bonn, Germany).

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