Norms and Reform: Legalizing Homosexuality Improves Attitudes - Working Paper 465

October 04, 2017
Download the data and replication code here (55mb zip file).

This analysis examines the relationship between legal reform and social norms surrounding homosexuality. We document three main findings. First, about a fifth of the variation in individual preferences can be explained at a country level. Second, using a difference-in-differences strategy, legalizing homosexuality improves how individuals view the tone of their communities. Third, we provide further evidence supporting a legal origins argument by examining former colonies. Countries that were colonized by the British Empire have significantly worse legal rights for same-sex couples than those under other colonial powers. We conclude that adopting legal reform can improve societal attitudes.

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