Research Publication Title

Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Affect Hate Crime Rates?

Major

Economics

Faculty Mentor(s)

John R. Swinton

Abstract

Same-sex marriage has become a hot-button issue in recent years. Most U.S. states have legalized or have begun introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. In this paper, I attempt to determine if legalizing same-sex marriage affects the rate of sexual orientation-based hate crimes. Previous studies on the economics of hate have found that economic hardships lead to increased hate crime rates. However, no research has been conducted to determine if changes in the law, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, affect people's preference for hate. As the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, Massachusetts provides a natural experiment by which to examine this relationship. I utilize state level panel data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on hate crimes reported between 1996 and 2008 to determine the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. Using a difference-in-difference technique, I compare hate crime rates from before and after legalization as well as rates in Massachusetts relative to other Northeastern states in the same time frame. I find that legalizing same-sex marriage has no statistically significant effect on the rate of sexual orientation-based hate crime rates.

Start Date

10-4-2015 1:15 PM

End Date

10-4-2015 2:15 PM

Location

HSB 300

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Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Affect Hate Crime Rates?

HSB 300

Same-sex marriage has become a hot-button issue in recent years. Most U.S. states have legalized or have begun introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. In this paper, I attempt to determine if legalizing same-sex marriage affects the rate of sexual orientation-based hate crimes. Previous studies on the economics of hate have found that economic hardships lead to increased hate crime rates. However, no research has been conducted to determine if changes in the law, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, affect people's preference for hate. As the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, Massachusetts provides a natural experiment by which to examine this relationship. I utilize state level panel data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on hate crimes reported between 1996 and 2008 to determine the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. Using a difference-in-difference technique, I compare hate crime rates from before and after legalization as well as rates in Massachusetts relative to other Northeastern states in the same time frame. I find that legalizing same-sex marriage has no statistically significant effect on the rate of sexual orientation-based hate crime rates.