, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 1243–1268 | Cite as

Effect of Registered Partnership on Labor Earnings and Fertility for Same-Sex Couples: Evidence From Swedish Register Data

  • Lina AldénEmail author
  • Lena Edlund
  • Mats Hammarstedt
  • Michael Mueller-Smith


The expansion of legal rights to same-sex couples is afoot in a number of Western countries. The effects of this rollout are not only important in their own right but can also provide a window on the institution of marriage and the rights bundled therein. In this article, using Swedish longitudinal register data covering 1994–2007, we study the impact of the extension of rights to same-sex couples on labor earnings and fertility. In 1994, registered partnership for same-sex couples was introduced, which conferred almost all rights and obligations of marriage—a notable exception being joint legal parenting, by default or election. The latter was added in the 2002 adoption act. We find registered partnership to be important to both gays and lesbians but for different reasons. For gays, resource pooling emerges as the main function of registered partnerships. For lesbians, registered partnership appears to be an important vehicle for family formation, especially after the 2002 adoption act. In contrast to heterosexual couples (included for comparison), we find no evidence of household specialization among lesbians. The lack of specialization is noteworthy given similar fertility effects of registered partnership (after 2002) and the fact that lesbian couples were less assortatively matched (on education) than heterosexual couples—children and unequal earnings power being two factors commonly believed to promote specialization.


Same-sex partnership Marriage premium Paternity presumption 



The authors thank the participants at the Conference on Discrimination and Labour Market Research in Växjö in May 2013, at the International Labour Process Conference at King’s College in London in 2014, and at the ESPE-conference in Braga, Portugal, in 2014 for valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lina Aldén
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lena Edlund
    • 2
  • Mats Hammarstedt
    • 1
  • Michael Mueller-Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Labour Market and Discrimination StudiesLinnaeus UniversityVäxjöSweden
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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