2 How Has Same-Sex Marriage Affected Same-Sex Cohabitors? Changes in Couple Characteristics, 1997–2017

Russell Spiker , Vanderbilt University

An explosion in research on same-sex couples occurred alongside a shift in the legal right to same-sex marriage. Many such studies aggregate from before marriage equality with data from time periods when same-sex marriage was increasingly available. Marital selection may affect the generalizability of older results to the present. If sexual minorities follow similar selection patterns to heterosexuals, legal marriage may lead to a decrease in "married-like" same-sex cohabitors. Alternatively, same-sex couples may follow different selection patterns and same-sex cohabitors may resemble same-sex spouses. Using data in from the 1997-2017 National Health Interview Surveys, I examine changes in demographic, economic, and health characteristics over time. I find little evidence that the demographic and economic profiles of same-sex cohabitors changed over the time period. However, I also find large health disadvantages for same-sex couples compared to different-sex couples, suggesting that health risks may have increased over time.

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 Presented in Session 217. Gender and Sexual Minority Families