Economic Research on the Impact of Same Sex Marriage

I’ve long held as a principle that a healthy family structure, of any sort, is a positive thing. It’s difficult to argue against the idea that people sharing a roof and sharing the common goal of each other’s well being where care and empathy for those around one equals or supersedes one’s own as positive. I’ve also been less interested in the specifics of the make up of the family beyond consistency, stability and a gain on the margin for resources like income, child care duties and health insurance.

Marriage helps, in as much as it increases consistency and formalizes relationships to the extent that an extension of those critical benefits becomes not only possible but legally obligated.

Additionally, it’s always struck me as odd to value family but to believe that it’s not the resources and emotional bond that matter most, but instead the narrow interpretation of what a family is.

A new working paper from the Bureau of Economic Research supports that perspective. Christopher Carpenter, Samuel T. Eppink, Gilbert Gonzales Jr. and Tara McKay researched data from 2000 to 2016 to support their conclusion. From the abstract:

“We find robust evidence that access to legal same sex marriage (SSM) significantly increased marriage take-up among men and women in same sex households (SSH). We also find that legal SSM was associated with significant increases in health insurance, access to care, and utilization for men in SSH. Our results provide the first evidence that legal access to SSM improved health for adult gay men.”

Interestingly, the data shows that men in same sex marriages benefited more than women in same sex marriage from increases in availability of health care. Women in same sex marriages already had more access to coverage when same sex marriage was recognized nationally. Why wasn’t covered in the scope of the research but the group hypothesized that the increased likelihood of children in the households of women in same sex marriages encouraged relocation to areas that recognized same sex marriage in advance of nationwide access to same sex marriage.

What I think is perhaps the most interesting conclusion within the conclusion of the paper is that the most measurable benefit associated with the expansion of access to marriage is an increase in access to healthcare. Which shows again, the monstrosity of the healthcare problem in America. Government, private and personal healthcare spending continues to increase. Share of overall GDP for the healthcare sector continues to increase. $6.1 billion were spent on pharmaceutical ads last year.

It’s beginning to look like the dystopia of our future won’t be one of good old fashioned environmental catastrophe or nuclear fall-out. We won’t be enslaved by AI powered robots. We’ll be enslaved by healthcare.

But that’s another post all together.

Yes, all that from a working paper on marriage…

Categories: Economics

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