1 COHERE, Department of Business and Economics, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU2 Department of Business and Economics, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU3 COHERE, Department of Business and Economics, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU
It has long been argued that the legalization of same-sex marriage would have a negative impact on marriage. In this article, I examine how different-sex marriage in the Netherlands was affected by the enactment of two laws: a 1998 law that provided all couples with an institution almost identical to marriage (a “registered partnership”) and a 2001 law that legalized same-sex marriage for the first time in the world. I first construct a synthetic control for the Netherlands using OECD data for the period 1988–2005 and find that neither law had significant effects on either the overall or different-sex marriage rate. I next construct a unique individual-level data set covering the period 1995–2005 by combining the Dutch Labor Force Survey and official municipal records. The estimates from a discrete-time hazard model with unobserved heterogeneity for the first-marriage decision confirm the findings in the aggregate analysis. The effects of the two laws are heterogeneous, with presumably more-liberal individuals (as defined by their residence or ethnicity) marrying less after passage of both laws and potentially more-conservative individuals marrying more after passage of each law.