New Study Confirms: Kids with Same-Sex Parents Do Better at School

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday February 8, 2019

By now it's old news: The children of same-sex couples have been shown time and again to do at least as well as their peers with mixed-gender parents at school and in life. A new study from several economists in Europe reconfirms this data, The Washington Post reports, but also adds a twist: In this study, the results aren't skewed by parents having divorced opposite-sex partners before forming families headed by two adults of the same gender. This, the study indicates, allows the children of same-sex couples to do not just as well as other kids, but markedly better.

The Post noted that authors Deni Mazrekaj, Kristof de Witte and Sofie Cabus accessed data gathered by the government of the Netherlands, which, in 2001, led the way globally for legalized marriage equality. The data used in the study goes back to six years earlier than that move to grant legal parity to same-sex families, meaning that the study could effectively look at the entire scholastic careers of people as old as 23.

"In total, this latest study tracked 1,200 children raised by same-sex couples and more than 1 million kids raised by different-sex couples," the Post article noted.

The study, titled "School Outcomes of Children Raised by Same-Sex Couples: Evidence from Administrative Panel Data," made it a point to use a larger sample size and a long interval of time. As the authors note in the paper's introductory paragraph, "Although widely used in policy debates, the literature on children's outcomes in same-sex families has mostly relied on small selective samples or on samples base don cross-sectional survey data.

"This led to a lack of statistical power," the paper observed, "misclassification of same-sex couples, and the inability to separate children born on same-sex families from children of divorce."

In other words: The new study offers a cleaner, more comprehensive, and therefore more accurate depiction of how children born to same-sex couples fare. In a word: They fare better, with higher test scores throughout their elementary school years and high school education, and a higher rate — by nearly 7% - of high school graduation.

Key differences that set same-sex parents apart from their heterosexual peers include a tendency to be older, as well as an often necessary higher income to overcome barriers to parenthood that mixed-gender couples do not face. All of this adds up to what the Post noted was a greater factor of same-sex parents being motivated to become parents in the first place, since — unlike heterosexual pairings — same-sex couples cannot get pregnant without careful planning.

The advantages conferred on children by having parents with higher education and correspondingly higher income levels held across the board, the paper noted, but those factors may not be all there is to the equation; the academic success of children from homes headed by same-sex couples was still observably more pronounced than for children who had mixed-gender parents.

Earlier studies have indicated that having two engaged and attentive parents may be the key to raising happier and more successful offspring. As a 2014 scientific literature review noted, "Differences that exist in child well-being are largely due to socioeconomic circumstances and family stability," a notion not at all dispelled, but rather supported, by this new study.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.