Gay Weddings Would Be Great Even if They Didn't Help the Economy—but They Do!

Icing on the wedding cake

reutersgaymarriage.jpg

New York's decision to legalize same-sex marriage would be great news for the state, even if same-sex matrimony were downright dreadful for the economy. But in fact, we have every reason to believe the opposite is true. More gay weddings would be a big fat stimulus!

The U.S. wedding industry is a $86 billion business, with nearly 3 million ceremonies a year. But in every state west of Massachusetts (besides Iowa), same-sex couples cannot legally wed under the state constitution. You can probably guess how this artificially suppresses demand for caterers, linen vendors, flower makers, and cake artisans. But an overlooked aspect of the wedding multiplier effect comes from the guests. Online shoppers are three times more likely to buy from a website when looking for a wedding present:


In a well cited study from UCLA, researchers estimated that legalizing gay marriage would boost the California economy by nearly $700 million from direct spending in the next three years, creating or sustaining more than 2,100 jobs. Ten percent of that stimulus was projected to come from "wedding tourism," as out-of-town same-sex couples drove out to California to legally wed.


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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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