An extensive study of the Netherlands has found that kids raised by same-sex families tend to outperform their peers in primary and secondary school.
The study, by researchers Deni Mazrekaj, Kristof de Witte and Sofie Cabus from KU Leuven university in Belgium, used government data that tracked all children born in the Netherlands since 1995.
This country is significant because the Netherlands was the first nation in the world to introduce full marriage equality in 2001 and has generally long been accepting of same-sex couples.
The study was able to compare 1,200 kids raised by same-sex families with more than 1 million children raised by different-sex couples.
The researchers found that children raised by same-sex couples had higher scores in elementary and secondary school and were about 6.7 percent more likely to graduate than children from opposite-sex couples.
“The results indicate that children raised by same-sex couples perform better than children raised by opposite-sex couples in both primary and secondary education,” they said.
The authors acknowledged that financial resources may play a role in the outcomes. “Given the time-consuming and costly procedures for same-sex couples to obtain children, same-sex parents typically have a high socioeconomic status resulting in higher parental investment,” they said.
When they controlled for wealth, the gap between the children’s performance decreased, but children of same-sex parents nevertheless still did better, although to a lesser degree.
Another explanation offered was that because same-sex parents may feel that their children could experience stigma and discrimination, “they may channel this as motivation to increase their parental investment.”
The researchers said they undertook the study because “a central component of the public policy debates about marriage and family matters is the wellbeing of children in nontraditional family structures.”
The study adds to growing research which largely indicates that despite the possible challenges of having to deal with stigma and discrimination, children of same-sex couples do as well and sometime better than those from opposite sex couples.