Same-sex marriage could contribute $161 million to the economy

Date: Feb 28, 2012

The case for same-sex partnerships to be legally recognised in Australia has received some support from an unusual source - an economic study produced by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In a paper titled The Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Australia, researchers from the Williams Institute at UCLA have found that legislative changes could contribute an extra $161 million over three years.

Authors of the study used statistical estimates and recent survey data to determine this amount and note that the published contributions would be likely to vary from state to state.

The report states: "If Australia grants same-sex couples the right to marry, the Australian economy will benefit from a surge in spending related to weddings by same-sex couples.

"This boost to the economy will result from spending by same-sex couples who reside in Australia, those who travel to Australia to marry, and the wedding guests of both."

Co-author of the paper, economics professor Lee Badgett, said that the results were based "on the lowest estimate of the number of Australian same-sex couples and how much they might spend".

Badgett explained: "But even as a low-end figure, $161 million is a substantial economic injection into the kinds of small businesses typically associated with weddings."

The industries most likely to benefit from this action would be those typically related to the nuptial industry - including hospitality sectors such as hotels, restaurants and venue hire firms, photographers and event planners.

However, the estimates taken into consideration by the researchers were only related to the direct expenses that could be undertaken by the couples currently residing in Australia.

The paper does not go into the added benefits to be realised by the increase in family visitors, relatives and well-wishers to the country - nor does it include the effect to be realised by couples travelling here for the express purpose of having their same-sex marriage legally formalised.

One of the authors, research assistant Jennifer Smith from the Centre for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts said that their added expenses could provide a substantial boost to the Australian economy.

Smith said: "Given the range of estimates, we can predict with great confidence that the overall impact will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars."

Same sex couples concerned about their legal rights and liabilities arising from their relationship should consult  a family lawyer.