Do laws shape attitudes? Evidence from same-sex relationship recognition policies in Europe

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Christopher S Carpenter, Ralph DeHaas*, Kevin D Tran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Understanding whether laws shape or simply reflect citizens’ attitudes is important but empirically difficult. We provide new evidence on this question by studying the relation between legal same-sex relationship recognition policies (SSRRPs) and attitudes toward sexual minorities in Europe. Using data from the European Social Surveys covering 2002–2016 and exploiting variation in the timing of SSRRPs across countries, we show that legal relationship recognition is associated with statistically significant improvements in attitudes toward sexual minorities. These effects are widespread across demographic groups but are consistently larger for more conservative groups in countries with less gender equality. Our results suggest that laws can exert a powerful influence in shaping societal attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103399
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Economic Review
Volume124
Early online date15 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics

Keywords

  • Public opinion
  • Same-sex relationship recognition policies
  • LGB attitudes

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