IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Effects of Access to Legal Same-Sex Marriage on Marriage and Health: Evidence from BRFSS


  • Christopher Carpenter
  • Samuel T. Eppink
  • Gilbert Gonzales Jr.
  • Tara McKay


We exploit variation in access to legal same-sex marriage (SSM) across states and time to provide novel evidence of its effects on marriage and health using data from the CDC BRFSS from 2000-2016, a period spanning the entire rollout of legal SSM across the United States. Our main approach is to relate changes in outcomes for individuals in same-sex households (SSH) [i.e., households with exactly two same-sex adults], which we show includes a substantial share of gay and lesbian couples, coincident with adoption of legal SSM in two-way fixed effects models. We find robust evidence that access to legal SSM significantly increased marriage take-up among men and women in 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Carpenter & Samuel T. Eppink & Gilbert Gonzales Jr. & Tara McKay, 2018. "Effects of Access to Legal Same-Sex Marriage on Marriage and Health: Evidence from BRFSS," NBER Working Papers 24651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24651
    Note: HC HE LE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Shuai Chen & Jan van Ours, 2021. "Mental Health Effects of Same-Sex Marriage Legalization," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 21-003/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Michael E. Martell & Peyton Nash, 2020. "For Love and Money? Earnings and Marriage Among Same-Sex Couples," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 260-294, September.
    3. Sansone, Dario, 2019. "Pink work: Same-sex marriage, employment and discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 180(C).
    4. 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.
    5. Carpenter, Christopher S. & Sansone, Dario, 2021. "Cigarette taxes and smoking among sexual minority adults," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    6. Avner Seror & Rohit Ticku, 2021. "Legalized Same-Sex Marriage and Coming Out in America: Evidence from Catholic Seminaries," Working Papers 21-07, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    7. Mary Eschelbach Hansen & Michael E. Martell & Leanne Roncolato, 2020. "A labor of love: The impact of same-sex marriage on labor supply," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 265-283, June.
    8. Saxby, Karinna & de New, Sonja C. & Petrie, Dennis, 2020. "Structural stigma and sexual orientation disparities in healthcare use: Evidence from Australian Census-linked-administrative data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 255(C).
    9. Mann, Samuel & Blackaby, David & O’Leary, Nigel, 2019. "Sexual identity and wellbeing: A distributional analysis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 133-136.
    10. Elliott Isaac, 2018. "Suddenly Married: Joint Taxation And The Labor Supply Of Same-Sex Married Couples After U.S. v. Windsor," Working Papers 1809, Tulane University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24651. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.