The effect of same sex marriage laws on different sex

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1 Introduction, Economists have long been interested in the effects of various policies on individuals decision to. marry Some of the policies studied are aimed directly at the institution of marriage such as no fault. divorce laws Allen et al 2006 Rasul 2006 or minimum age requirements Blank et al 2007. Other policies alter monetary incentives associated with marriage such as the welfare reform Bitler. et al 2004 or reduce the cost of premarital sex arising from a reduction in the legal age for use. of oral contraceptives Goldin and Katz 2002 The common theme in all these studies is that the. policies each alter the value of marriage relative to alternative arrangements. It has been argued recently that another policy that could affect the value of marriage and. implicitly the incentives to marry particularly for heterosexual couples is the legalization of same. sex marriage The end of marriage argument holds that opening marriage to same sex couples. would lead to a fall in the number of different sex marriages because the value of marriage would. be reduced It demeans the institution The institution of marriage is trivialized by same sex. marriage Rep Henry Hyde House subcommittee meeting as cited in Mohr 1997 This argument. has been mentioned frequently in the same sex marriage debate both in the media and in the. political discourse and was used to justify amendments to state constitutions such as Proposition 8. in California or the Defense of Marriage Acts laws meant to protect the federal or state governments. from having to recognize a same sex marriage performed elsewhere 1. However it is theoretically ambiguous whether same sex marriage should have a negative effect. on heterosexual marriage For example the legalization of same sex marriage might be perceived as. a move toward a more secular less traditional institution increasing its value for some different sex. couples The evidence in support of or against the end of marriage claim is remarkably sparse and. rests on the interpretation of aggregate numbers on marriage and divorce rates on indirect evidence. such as the out of wedlock birth rate or the cohabitation rate and on anecdotal evidence reported. in local media 2, In this paper I conduct the first analysis of the effects that same sex marriage has on heterosexual. marriage by studying its effect in the Netherlands The Netherlands is a good candidate for such. an analysis for three reasons First it was the earliest 2001 country to allow same sex couples. to marry thus offering the longest period with which to examine the impact of this law Second. prior to legalizing same sex marriage the Dutch legislature formalized in 1998 the legal concept. By the end of 2008 Congress and forty states had enacted such acts Stateline org 2009 Thirty states also. had constitutional amendments that specifically defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman with. voters in Arizona California and Florida approving constitutional bans on same sex marriage in November 2008. For arguments against the legalization of same sex marriage see Kurtz 2004a b c d Responses from proponents. of same sex marriage can be found in Badgett 2004a b Mello 2004 Cahill 2004 or Eskridge and Spedale 2006. of registered partnership an institution that is identical to marriage in almost every respect but. name and tradition Unlike the Nordic countries the Dutch registered partnership is also open. to different sex couples Since this contract is virtually identical to marriage this offers a unique. opportunity to distinguish between a change in the marriage rate itself and a change in the number. of couples who wish to legally formalize their relationship It also allows for the distinction between. the effects of granting same sex couples the rights and benefits of marriage through an alternative. institution and the effects of same sex marriage itself Finally the same sex marriage debate in the. Netherlands was also subject to a vigorous end of marriage argument 3. I conduct my analysis both at the individual level and in the aggregate I first construct a. unique and highly confidential individual level data set that includes demographic characteristics. as well as information on the marriage decisions over the period 1995 2005 for a significant fraction. of the Dutch population I then use a duration model for age at first marriage Using multiple. specifications I calculate the effect of the registered partnership law and of the same sex marriage. law on the first marriage rate I find that not controlling for unobserved heterogeneity in the. propensity to marry introduces significant biases in the results My estimates from specifications. with unobserved heterogeneity suggest that the marriage rate increases after the enactment of the. registered partnership law and falls after the same sex marriage law came into effect However this. pattern is not uniform Individuals living in the more conservative municipalities commonly called. the Dutch Bible belt tend to marry less after the registered partnership law but their marriage rate. returns to the long term trend after the same sex marriage law In contrast individuals living in. the four largest cities the more liberal areas marry less after both laws Finally people residing. outside these two regions follow the same pattern as the overall marriage rate marrying more after. the registered partnership law and less after the same sex marriage law. A limitation of the individual level analysis is that I cannot construct a counterfactual what the. marriage rate would have been in the absence of same sex marriage laws To address this concern. I turn to aggregate data and I use the method developed by Abadie and Gardeazabal 2003 to. construct a synthetic control for the Netherlands This synthetic control is a set of weights for the. OECD member countries such that the weighted average of their marriage rates before 1998 the. year when the registered partnership law was enacted matches the evolution of the marriage rate in. the Netherlands The weights for each country are data driven calculated by matching the values. In personal correspondence with the author Boris Dittrich former member and floor leader of the Dutch Par. liament and a supporter of the same sex marriage bill recalls I distinctly remember my former colleague Kees van. der Staaij from the Orthodox Christian Party SGP using those arguments He even said that God would punish. those who are destroying the institution of marriage between a man and a woman That night of the debate we. were debating same sex marriage for two full days I drove home very carefully I thought if I will get into a car. accident tonight people will think God has punished me. of the marriage rate and its determinants in the synthetic control to the corresponding values in the. Netherlands for the period 1988 1997 A comparison of the Dutch marriage rate to the synthetic. marriage rate confirms the average findings from the individual level specifications different sex. couples marry more after the registered partnership law but less after the same sex marriage law. Another advantage of the aggregate data is that it allows me to analyze both different sex. marriages and different sex unions i e marriages and registered partnerships The results suggest. that the rate of different sex unions increases after the registered partnership law not surprisingly. since the marriage rate increases and then falls after the enactment of the same sex marriage. law so that the rate of different sex unions after 2001 remains close to the rate predicted by the. synthetic control Additional evidence from the survey conducted by Boele Woelki et al 2006. suggests that the post 2001 result might be explained by two effects First some couples learn over. time about registered partnership and therefore there is a continued increase in the rate of more. couples choosing registered partnership over both marriage and cohabitation Second the same sex. marriage law reduces the value of marriage relative to alternatives for some couples and those who. value registered partnership below cohabitation end up choosing cohabitation over marriage. Three lessons can be learned from the Dutch experience First legalizing same sex marriage. leads to a fall in the different sex marriage rate but not in the different sex union rate Second the. introduction of same sex registered partnership does not affect different sex marriage negatively. This suggests that there might be no negative effects on the institution of marriage from allowing. same sex couples access to an institution that grants the same rights as marriage but does not carry. its traditional meaning Finally granting different sex couples access to an alternative institution. to marriage increases the different sex union rate extending the economic and social benefits of. marriage to a larger group of individuals, The rest of the paper proceeds as follows The next section introduces the legal background in. the Netherlands The empirical strategy is presented in section 3 followed by a brief description of. the data in section 4 and an interpretation of the results in section 5 Section 6 provides additional. evidence from the aggregate analysis and section 7 concludes. 2 The Dutch legal environment, The road to same sex marriage in the Netherlands was long and bumpy 4 At the beginning of the. 1990s gay rights organizations in the Netherlands tried to build on the success of their Danish. counterparts who had obtained the enactment of a registered partnership law in 1989 and push. The presentation in this section draws extensively on van Velde 2005 and Merin 2002. for the legal recognition of same sex couples The first move was to suggest in 1991 the creation. of a symbolic registry which could have evolved into an alternative to the marriage registry and to. which municipalities would participate voluntarily Under this arrangement same sex couples were. allowed to register their relationship with the municipality a registration that did not involve any. benefits or obligations from either the couple or the municipality or the Dutch government This. suggestion was not in conflict with the general feelings of the population as opinion polls showed. that almost 53 of the population supported same sex marriage in 1990 a share that increased. over time to around 63 in 1991 to about 73 in 1995 van Velde 2005 More than 100 of the. 650 Dutch municipalities voluntarily decided to participate within the first year thus paving the. way for the introduction of the registered partnership system. The government was to set up a committee of legal advisers the Kortmann Committee to. inquire into the legal effects and the desirability of the legal recognition of same sex couples The. committee recommended the introduction of a Danish style partnership a proposal warmly received. by the government A bill for the new institution was introduced in the Parliament in 1993 but. held up because of the 1994 elections After the elections the governing coalition in the Netherlands. did not include the Christian Democrats the largest party opposing same sex marriage for the first. time in almost eighty years In 1995 the new cabinet presented a white paper that suggested the. introduction of registered partnerships for same sex couples and in a departure from the Danish. model for different sex couples as well The argument was that the new institution was not supposed. to discriminate based on sexual orientation and that heterosexuals not willing to marry should have. access to this alternative contract Merin 2002, Therefore the registered partnership was designed to be almost identical to marriage and.
in the case of different sex couples an almost perfect substitute Waaldijk 2004 compares the. two institutions based on their levels of legal consequences the rights and obligations derived. from a contract and finds only three differences for heterosexual couples First a married man. is automatically acknowledged as the father of a child born in that marriage whereas a man in a. registered partnership has to explicitly claim the child before or after birth although this is rather a. formality Second both contracts can be terminated in court but registered partnerships can also. be dissolved at the civil registry by mutual agreement 5 Finally couples in registered partnerships. are prohibited from engaging in international adoption This restriction can be circumvented by. Starting from 2001 married couples can change their marriage to a registered partnership Statistics Netherlands. reports that in more than 90 of the cases this is part of a two step procedure commonly called flash divorce. where the partnership is dissolved by mutual agreement This is a cheaper alternative to divorce when there is an. understanding with respect to the division of common property Therefore the rest of the analysis will only include. new partnerships rather than the total number of partnerships. one partner adopting the child as a single individual and the other partner subsequently adopting. the child as the partner of the adoptive parent, Since the planned legislation granted same sex couples access only to registered partnerships. there was an argument that same sex couples would still face discrimination A motion calling for. the opening of civil marriage to same sex couples was introduced in 1996 when the white paper was. presented as a bill in the Dutch Parliament While the registered partnership bill was making its. marriage Evidence from the Netherlands Mircea Tranda r Universit e de Sherbrooke and GREDI November 2009 Abstract It has long been argued that the legalization of same sex marriage would have a negative impact on marriage In this paper I examine what happened to di erent sex marriage in the Netherlands after the enactment of two laws in 1998 a law that provided all couples with an

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