Registered partnership (RP) and marriage in the Netherlands are identical in terms of rights and obligations but may differ in symbolism. Exploiting same-sex marriage legalization (SSML) in the Netherlands as a policy shock, we investigate the effect of marital symbolism on partnership stability. Applying a mixed competing risks model to administrative micro-data, we disentangle selectivity into marriage from the effect of getting married. Our main finding is that partnerships that transformed into marriage had a substantially lower separation rate. We take this result as evidence of the symbolic effect of marriage stabilizing partnerships. We discuss economic mechanisms of marital symbolism related to marriage premiums.

Same-sex marriage, Registered partnership, Separation, Duration analysis
Positive Analysis of Policy-Making and Implementation (jel D78), Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure (jel J12), Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination (jel J15), Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination (jel J16), Family and Personal Law (jel K36),
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Department of Applied Economics

Chen, S., & van Ours, J.C. (2020). Symbolism Matters: The Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Legalization on Partnership Stability. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 178, 44–58. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2020.07.021