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Do laws shape attitudes? Evidence from same-sex relationship recognition policies in Europe

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  • Aksoy, Cevat G.
  • Carpenter, Christopher S.
  • De Haas, Ralph
  • Tran, Kevin D.

Abstract

Understanding whether laws shape or simply reflect citizens’ attitudes is important but empirically difficult. We provide new evidence on this question by studying the relation between legal same-sex relationship recognition policies (SSRRPs) and attitudes toward sexual minorities in Europe. Using data from the European Social Surveys covering 2002–2016 and exploiting variation in the timing of SSRRPs across countries, we show that legal relationship recognition is associated with statistically significant improvements in attitudes toward sexual minorities. These effects are widespread across demographic groups but are consistently larger for more conservative groups in countries with less gender equality. Our results suggest that laws can exert a powerful influence in shaping societal attitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • Aksoy, Cevat G. & Carpenter, Christopher S. & De Haas, Ralph & Tran, Kevin D., 2020. "Do laws shape attitudes? Evidence from same-sex relationship recognition policies in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 124(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:124:y:2020:i:c:s0014292120300313
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2020.103399
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Shuai & van Ours, Jan C., 2020. "Symbolism matters: The effect of same-sex marriage legalization on partnership stability," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 44-58.
    2. D. Mark Anderson & Kyutaro Matsuzawa & Joseph J. Sabia, 2019. "Marriage Equality Laws and Youth Suicidal Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 26364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sansone, Dario, 2019. "Pink work: Same-sex marriage, employment and discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 180(C).
    4. Fernández, Raquel & Parsa, Sahar & Viarengo, Martina, 2019. "Coming Out in America: AIDS, Politics, and Cultural Change," IZA Discussion Papers 12360, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Anderson, D. Mark & Matsuzawa, Kyutaro & Sabia, Joseph J., 2019. "Marriage Equality Laws and Youth Mental Health," IZA Discussion Papers 12819, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Gouveia, Filipe & Nilsson, Therese & Berggren, Niclas, 2020. "Religiosity and discrimination against same-sex couples: The case of Portugal's rental market," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C).
    7. Cevat Giray Aksoy & Michael Ganslmeier & Panu Poutvaara, 2020. "Public Attention and Policy Responses to Covid-19 Pandemic," CESifo Working Paper Series 8409, CESifo.
    8. Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Ganslmeier, Michael & Poutvaara, Panu, 2020. "Public Attention and Policy Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic," IZA Discussion Papers 13427, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public opinion; Same-sex relationship recognition policies; LGB attitudes;

    JEL classification:

    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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