Can Marriage Destroy Marriage?: Lessons from the Netherlands

Mircea Trandafir, University of Maryland

One of the most important arguments in the same-sex marriage debate is the claim that the legalization of same-sex marriage would weaken or even destroy the institution of marriage. This claim has been cited as one of the reasons for the enactment in various states of legislation preventing same-sex marriage, and has spurred an intense debate in the public and in the media. There is surprisingly little evidence, however, even anecdotal, that confirms or refutes this end-of-marriage argument. In this paper, I examine what happened to different-sex marriage in the Netherlands after it legalized same-sex marriage in 2001 and an alternative institution for all couples--registered partnership--, in 1998. Using individual-level data matched with official vital records for the period 1995--2005, I find evidence that the 1998 law did not seem to affect marriage, but the same-sex marriage law did.

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Presented in Session 102: Public Policy and Family Forms