Same-sex marriage could add over $650M to the Australian economy annually: analysis

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Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009.
Two bride figurines adorn the top of a wedding cake during an illegal same-sex wedding ceremony in central Melbourne August 1, 2009. Reuters/Mick Tsikas

More than $650 million will be added to the Australian economy per year if same-sex marriage is legalised, an ANZ senior economist has predicted. An analysis shows that benefits from weddings alone would likely meet this estimate.

ANZ senior economist Cherelle Murphy has run some numbers on the benefits of legalising same-sex marriage in Australia. She said that most of the gains would be from money spent on weddings, with pent-up demand driving gains across hospitality, arts and recreation, retail trade and professional services such as pre-nuptial agreements and divorce.

Based on Murphy’s research, over 20,000 same-sex couples would marry and would be ready to spend cash. The economist cited research from the 2016 census, which showed that a higher number of same-sex couples earn over $100,000 annually.

In 2015, an ANZ research estimated that the economic benefit of the wedding-effect would be $500-550 million. Murphy believes that Australian consumer confidence can also get a boost if same-sex marriage is legalised. Recent polls suggest that majority of Aussies are for marriage equality.

As she forecasted a sharp spike in wedding activity, Murphy cited the example of the ACT in 2013, when same-sex marriage was legalised for 35 days. The ruling was later reversed by the High Court.

Up to 31 same-sex couples registered to get married at that time. Murphy said that was clearly an over-representation of same-sex weddings.

To arrive at the $650 million estimate, Murphy based her forecast on the 2016 census. The aforementioned poll showed that there were nearly 47,000 same-sex couples here. Her analysis assumes that about half of that total will go ahead and tie the knot once same-sex marriage in Australia gets an official “yes.”

In reaching an estimate of 50 percent, ANZ cited some evidence to support its conclusion. These include a 2010 study by the University of Queensland which has learned that around half of Australian same-sex couples would choose to marry. A 2016 US telephone poll was also cited, which found that 61 percent of same-sex couples got married following the US Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 that prevented individual states from banning same-sex marriage.

Murphy said the total dollar-value impact of legalising same-sex marriage would be small relative to the size of the nation’s economy. “While the macroeconomic implications of the sum are minuscule, for some sectors the impact will be more meaningful,” Business Insider Australia quotes her as saying.

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