Delaware Marriage Equality Adds $7M to State Economy

Williams Institute findings point to boost in revenues

Extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in Delaware will bring an estimated $7 million to the state and local economy, according to a study released by Angeliki Kastanis, Williams Institute public policy research fellow and M.V. Lee Badgett, Williams Institute research director and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“Those states that have approved same-sex marriage are already seeing positive economic benefits,” said Badgett. “Other states in the region, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have already legalized same-sex marriage. As Delaware becomes the 11th state to extend marriage to same-sex couples, they will begin to see the economic benefits that other states are already experiencing.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 2,646 same-sex couples live in Delaware. Of those couples, 50 percent will likely marry within the first three years after the passage of marriage equality, if the pattern observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere is repeated. After accounting for couples who have married in other states, that will translate to the issuance of 767 marriage licenses. Of the couples that may marry during the first three years, 64 percent of those marriages will occur during the first year, 21 percent during the second year and 15 percent during the third year. Delaware is situated adjacent to Maryland and other New England states that previously allowed marriage for same-sex couples, and the report takes into account the Delaware couples who may have married in other states.

According to estimates in the new Williams Institute report, the first three years of extending marriage to same-sex couples will yield these economic benefits:

  • The state’s wedding and tourism business will see spending rise by $7 million, including $5 million in additional wedding spending and $2 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests.
  • Although Delaware does not impose a sales tax on purchases in the state, there will be a small direct benefit boost of as much as $210,000 from this increase in spending through the public accommodations tax.
  • The boost in travel spending will generate approximately 36 jobs in the state.

This report does not include spending estimates for out-of-state same-sex couples who might travel to Delaware to marry, spending additional funds on wedding planning and tourism during their brief stay. Businesses and individuals also pay taxes on the new earnings generated by wedding spending, providing a further boost to the state budget.

What Do You Think?