Free DP Download 08 August 2019 - LEGALISATION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BOOSTS PARTNERSHIP STABILITY: Evidence from the Netherlands

Thursday, August 8, 2019

LEGALISATION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BOOSTS PARTNERSHIP STABILITY: Evidence from the Netherlands
Shuai Chen and Jan van Ours 
CEPR DP No. 13901 01 August 2019

A new CEPR study by Shuai Chen and Jan van Ours explores the effects of marriage on the stability of partnerships, using same-sex marriage legalisation in the Netherlands as a natural experiment. 

In 2001, same-sex marriage legalisation allowed registered partnerships to be transformed into marriages. Since registered partnerships and marriages are similar in terms of rights and obligations, the study seeks to understand the effect of marital symbolism on partnership stability. The research demonstrates that same-sex marriage legalisation has two effects: 

  • First, it increases the separation rate of existing same-sex registered partnerships. 
  • Second, partnerships that are transformed into marriage have a substantially lower separation rate. 

The second finding is evidence of the symbolic effect of marriage stabilising partnerships. Thanks to its symbolic significance, marriage may stabilise the preceding registered partnership as the couple make a unique public commitment. 

Figure 3: Survival probabilities of marriages that started after same-sex marriage legalisation


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