The Unexpected Harm of Same-Sex Marriage: A Critical Appraisal, Replication and Re-Analysis of Wainright and Patterson's Studies of Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents
22 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2015 Last revised: 12 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 2015
Wainright and Patterson’s three studies of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) examining children in 44 lesbian mother families comprise a key part of research efforts that have found no disadvantages in well-being for children with same-sex parents using a statistically representative national sample. Re-examination of the data finds that 27 of the 44 cases are misidentified heterosexual parents. Replication after removing the error cases finds that children with same-sex parents experience significantly lower autonomy and higher anxiety, but also better school performance, than do children with opposite-sex parents. Re-analysis of family type (same-sex vs. opposite-sex) by marriage status finds that, on a range of measures of child well-being, opposite-sex marriage is associated with improved outcomes, but same-sex marriage is associated with with lower outcomes. Comparing unmarried to married same-sex parents, above-average child depressive symptoms rises from 50% to 88%; daily fearfulness or crying rises from 5% to 32%; grade point average declines from 3.6 to 3.4; and child sex abuse by parent rises from zero to 38%.
Keywords: same-sex, marriage, family structure, child well-being, parenting, CES-D, National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health
JEL Classification: J12, J13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
By Jack Balkin