Forsaking All Others? The Effects of Gay Marriage on Risky Sex

Thomas S. Dee, Swarthmore College

The issue of whether marriage should be available to same-sex partners is one of the most controversial policy topics in the United States today. One of the hypothesized benefits of extending marriage to same-sex partners is that it would reduce the prevalence of risky sexual behavior. In this study, I present empirical evidence on whether this has actually occurred by evaluating the recent European experience with "gay marriage." Beginning with Denmark in 1989, several European nations have made marriage or quasi-marriage rights available to same-sex partners. This study presents evidence on whether these law changes have influenced the prevalence of gonorrhea, syphilis and new HIV infections. These evaluations are based on country-by-year panel data and two-way fixed effect specifications that control for the unobserved determinants specific to each country and year.

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Presented in Session 18: Sexual Behavior in the U.S.