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Do Laws Shape Attitudes? Evidence from Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Policies in Europe

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  • Cevat G. Aksoy
  • Christopher S. Carpenter
  • Ralph de Haas
  • Kevin Tran

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 relationship between legal same-sex relationship recognition policies (SSRRPs) and attitudes towards 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 a statistically significant increase in favourable attitudes towards sexual minorities. These effects are widespread across demographic groups, emerge only after the policies are adopted, and are not observed for views on other social issues. Our results suggest that laws can exert a powerful influence on societal attitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • Cevat G. Aksoy & Christopher S. Carpenter & Ralph de Haas & Kevin Tran, 2018. "Do Laws Shape Attitudes? Evidence from Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Policies in Europe," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1772, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1772
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    Cited by:

    1. Sansone, Dario, 2019. "Pink work: Same-sex marriage, employment and discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 180(C).
    2. 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.
    3. 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).
    4. 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).
    5. 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.
    6. 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).
    7. 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).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public opinion; same-sex relationship recognition policies; LGBT attitudes;

    JEL classification:

    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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