Mental health effects of same-sex marriage legalization

Shuai Chen, Jan C. van Ours*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
157 Downloads (Pure)


Same-sex marriage legalization (SSML) is a typical anti-discrimination policy to remove institutional discrimination against sexual minorities by providing them with marriage equality. We examine how this legalization in the Netherlands affected mental health. Conducting a difference-in-differences analysis with heterosexual individuals as a reference group, we find that SSML significantly improved mental health of sexual minorities and substantially reduced the sexual orientation gap of mental health. The beneficial effects were present for both married and non-married sexual minorities. This phenomenon suggests that part of the health gains were related to mechanisms beyond marriage itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Economics (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The authors are grateful to participants at an AEA Virtual Seminar on LGBTQ?+?Economics, and attendants at EALE-SOLE-AASLE World Conference 2020, EEA Congress 2020, an SOGI Economics Early Career Workshop, and Australian Gender Economics Workshop 2021 for their helpful comments and suggestions on a previous version of this paper. The authors thank Statistics Netherlands (CBS) for making their restricted access micro-data available for analysis through a remote access facility.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Health Economics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Dive into the research topics of 'Mental health effects of same-sex marriage legalization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this