Working Paper Series
Do Equal Rights for a Minority Affect General Life Satisfaction?
(), Christian Bjørnskov
() and Therese Nilsson
Abstract: While previous research examines how institutions matter
for general life satisfaction and how specific institutions embodying equal
rights for gay people matter for the life satisfaction of gays, we combine
these two issues to analyze how the latter type of institutions relates to
general life satisfaction. The question is how people in general are
affected by laws treating everyone equally irrespective of sexual
orientation. We find that legal recognition of partnership, marriage and
adoption rights, as well as an equal age of consent, relate positively to
general life satisfaction. Consequently, same-sex marriage and similar
reforms come at no “welfare” cost to society at large – if anything, the
opposite appears to hold. We further build on previous research showing
positive effects of economic freedom on happiness and on tolerance towards
gay people and interact our rights measure with economic freedom. This
reveals that the positive effect on general happiness of equal rights
mainly appears in countries with low economic freedom. This likely follows
because minority rights are perceived to indicate openness to much-desired
reforms in other areas.
Keywords: Life satisfaction; Same-sex marriage; Rights; Institutions; Culture; Immigration; Tolerance; Gays and lesbians; Minorities; Integration; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: I31; Z13; Z18; (follow links to similar papers)
26 pages, March 8, 2017
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