The pink pound: gay marriage could be worth millions to the economy
Written by Philip Howell-Williams on February 02, 2015.
Weddings are big business. When you add up the cost of venue hire, food, dresses for the bride and bridesmaid, photographer, cars …. the list goes on, the average wedding in the UK these days clocks in at over £18,000!
And there is no reason to suggest that same-sex couples who tie the knot will be any less profligate with their wedding expenses than opposite-sex ones. As an increasing number of US states are legalising gay marriage, it is likely that local economies will benefit economically from increased consumer spending not only on the wedding itself but also on the tourism dollars spent by out-of-town guests on accommodation, meals and so on. Increased spending could also lead to job creation.
Two US surveys have attempted to put a figure on the economic impact of same-sex unions. The website Nerdwallet suggests that if same-sex marriage were legalised in all 50 states, the net gain could add up to $2.5bn on top of the $51bn that the wedding industry is currently estimated to be worth. This figure is calculated based on data collected regarding consumer spending on weddings, the size of the homosexual population and marriage rates from state to state. A second study from the Williams Institute at the University of California, the state set to gain the most from spending on same-sex weddings, largely concurs with Nerdwallet’s findings, putting the potential gain at $2.6bn.
Pew Research Center survey results also seem to suggest that there could be a tidal wave of demand for weddings among the LGBT community in the next few years – a massive 52% of those polled answered yes to the question ‘If you could, would you like to get married someday?’.
The economic benefits of same-sex marriage may not stop at the wedding itself. It has been suggested that because married couples spend more than unmarried ones that an increase in the marriage rate will have a knock-on effect on the economic wellbeing of the nation as a whole, fuelling demand and pumping millions of dollars into the economy. A Gallup poll found that on average, married Americans spend $35 per day more than their unmarried counterparts.
We all know that where the US leads, many nations frequently follow. We can therefore reasonably expect that similar effects will be felt in other countries where same-sex marriage has been legalised, from Belgium to Brazil and from Spain to South Africa. Businesses which tap into this nascent market will find it well worth their while and those ignoring the pink pound do so at their peril.