, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 563–585 | Cite as

The Death of Marriage? The Effects of New Forms of Legal Recognition on Marriage Rates in the United States

  • Marcus DillenderEmail author


Some conservative groups argue that allowing same-sex couples to marry reduces the value of marriage to opposite-sex couples. This article examines how changes in U.S. legal recognition laws occurring between 1995 and 2010 designed to include same-sex couples have altered marriage rates in the United States. Using a difference-in-differences strategy that compares how marriage rates change after legal recognition in U.S. states that alter legal recognition versus states that do not, I find no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry reduces the opposite-sex marriage rate. Although the opposite-sex marriage rate is unaffected by same-sex couples marrying, it decreases when domestic partnerships are available to opposite-sex couples.


Same-sex marriage Legal recognition for couples Family economics Marriage rates 



This work was completed as part of my dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin. I thank the Editors, multiple anonymous referees, Jason Abrevaya, Sandra Black, Daniel Hamermesh, Carolyn Heinrich, Gerald Oettinger, and Stephen Trejo for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment ResearchKalamazooUSA

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