Economic impact of gender equity for gays and lesbians

California’s Proposition 8 Was Also About Economics

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jun 30, 2014

Our (occasional) Monday gender issue focus:

Yesterday, at the Nantucket Film Festival, I watched the HBO documentary, The Case Against 8. Documenting the court battle against California’s Proposition 8, the film introduced me to a memorable group of people that included 2 same-sex couples who wanted to get married and their attorneys, David Boies and Ted Olson. An auspicious pair, Boies and Olson had opposed each other for Bush v. Gore but now they were fighting the Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban together.

During the movie, very briefly, they referred to Lee Badgett. As an economist who specializes in gender equity issues that relate to gay and lesbian people, she was called as an expert witness. Yes, so I was curious and checked out her research.

Her recent research on same-sex marriage looks at the economic boost it gives to states. Through wedding spending and tax revenue, Nevada, for example, from weddings and out-of-town visitors, within 3 years, will generate from $23 million to $52 million in spending and $1.8 million to $4.2 million in tax revenue if, like Massachusetts, 50% of all same-sex couples marry. For Nevada, that would mean 50% of her 7,140 resident same-sex couples will probably marry.

Here are the figures for Pennsylvania. We should note that while the totals are small compared to Pennsylvania’s GDP, specific in-state businesses and national chains will especially feel the boost.

Gender Equity has an economic impact.

Please note that the number in the chart should be 7490, not 7940, according to the paper from which it was excerpted.

In Utah, the numbers are small:

Gender Equity has an economic impact.

From: Williams Institute

The message of the film was that unequal treatment of any minority has a widespread impact within and beyond that group. That impact would include the job discrimination stats shown below in an infographic from UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Gender equity has an impact on the workplace.

From: Williams Institute

Our bottom line? Economically speaking, gender inequity, is all about underutilizing human capital. Consequently, whether based on gender, race or religion, equity relates to economic growth.

Our second bottom line: In a Freakonomics podcast, Dr. Badgett says, “The most important thing to know is that it is actually pretty hard to get good data on lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.” As a result, Freakonomics warns us that the economic data on gender equity is, “on some level” suspect.

Note: This post was slightly edited after it appeared.

 

Sources and more...Perfectly complementing the economics of The Case Against 8, this Bloomberg article summarized Lee Badgett's research and led me to the Williams Institute where I read some of the papers. I also returned to a Freakonomics podcast and blog that looked at the myth of the affluent gay man. Finally, just this week, the 2 gentlemen in the case renewed their vows. The story was in the the LA Times.  

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