Do Laws Shape Attitudes? Evidence from Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Policies in Europe

Cevat G. Aksoy, Christopher S. Carpenter, Ralph de Haas, Kevin Tran

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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 relationship 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, emerge only after the policies are adopted, and are not observed for views on other social issues. Our results suggest that laws can exert a powerful influence in shaping societal attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages33
Volume2018-028
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper
Volume2018-028

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Keywords

  • Public Opinion
  • same-sex relationship recognition policies
  • LGBT attitudes

Cite this

Aksoy, C. G., Carpenter, C. S., de Haas, R., & Tran, K. (2018). Do Laws Shape Attitudes? Evidence from Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Policies in Europe. (CentER Discussion Paper; Vol. 2018-028). Tilburg: CentER, Center for Economic Research.