Do Equal Rights for a Minority Affect General Life Satisfaction?

26 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017

See all articles by Niclas Berggren

Niclas Berggren

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); University of Economics, Prague - Faculty of Economics and Public Administration

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Center for Political Studies; Institute for Corruption Studies

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 8, 2017

Abstract

While previous research examines how institutions matter for general life satisfaction and how specific institutions embodying equal rights for gay people matter for the life satisfaction of gays, we combine these two issues to analyze how the latter type of institutions relates to general life satisfaction. The question is how people in general are affected by laws treating everyone equally irrespective of sexual orientation. We find that legal recognition of partnership, marriage and adoption rights, as well as an equal age of consent, relate positively to general life satisfaction. Consequently, same-sex marriage and similar reforms come at no “welfare” cost to society at large – if anything, the opposite appears to hold. We further build on previous research showing positive effects of economic freedom on happiness and on tolerance towards gay people and interact our rights measure with economic freedom. This reveals that the positive effect on general happiness of equal rights mainly appears in countries with low economic freedom. This likely follows because minority rights are perceived to indicate openness to much-desired reforms in other areas.

Keywords: Life satisfaction, same-sex marriage, rights, institutions, culture, immigration, tolerance, gays and lesbians, minorities, integration

JEL Classification: I31, Z13, Z18

Suggested Citation

Berggren, Niclas and Bjørnskov, Christian and Nilsson, Therese, Do Equal Rights for a Minority Affect General Life Satisfaction? (March 8, 2017). IFN Working Paper No. 1156. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2929337

Niclas Berggren (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
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Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/nb

University of Economics, Prague - Faculty of Economics and Public Administration ( email )

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Praha, 130 67
Czech Republic

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus V, DK-8210
Denmark

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Center for Political Studies

Landgreven 3
Copenhagen K, DK-1301
Denmark

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund
Sweden
+46 46 222 46 43 (Phone)

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