Marriage Equality Laws and Youth Mental Health

58 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2019

See all articles by D. Mark Anderson

D. Mark Anderson

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics

Kyutaro Matsuzawa

San Diego State University

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics

Abstract

Since the landmark ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health in 2004, the legalization of same-sex marriage (SSM) has proliferated throughout the United States via either legislative action or court order. Advocates of SSM laws argue that marriage equality will generate important health benefits not only for adult same-sex couples, but also for LGBQ-identifying youths. Using data from the State Youth Risk Behavior Surveys for the period 1999-2017, we explore the relationship between marriage equality and suicidal behaviors among LGBQ-identifying youths. We find little evidence that SSM laws have reduced suicide attempts among teen sexual minorities, nor have they decreased the likelihood of suicide planning, suicide ideation, or depression. Instead, we find some evidence that SSM legalization via judicial mandate is associated with worse mental health for these individuals.

Keywords: same-sex marriage laws, youth suicide, risky health behaviors

JEL Classification: I18, I12

Suggested Citation

Anderson, D. Mark and Matsuzawa, Kyutaro and Sabia, Joseph, Marriage Equality Laws and Youth Mental Health. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12819, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3503769

D. Mark Anderson (Contact Author)

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics ( email )

Bozeman, MT 59717-2920
United States

Kyutaro Matsuzawa

San Diego State University ( email )

San Diego, CA 92182-0763
United States

Joseph Sabia

San Diego State University - Department of Economics ( email )

5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
United States

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