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No Special Desire To Move Away In States With Same-Sex Marriage Equality

A couple of weeks ago, I took a glimpse at statewide fertility scores (a combination of fertility rates and access to medical fertility assistance), and found that states that have legalized same-sex marriage have higher fertility than those that don’t.

Of course, there’s a lot more to life than just having babies. So, this morning, I’m looking at another statewide measure of contentment: A recent Gallup poll asking people whether they want to keep living in the state where they currently reside, or whether they would like to move out of state.

Again, I compared the average results for those states that have legalized same-sex marriage, and those that haven’t. What I found is that there’s not much difference between the two groups.

I followed the poll in organizing desire to leave into five categories, with 1 representing those states where the largest numbers of people want to leave and 5 representing states where the smallest number of people want to leave.

Average score for states with legalized same-sex marriage: 2.94
Average score for states where same-sex marriage is illegal: 3.15

On average, people in states where same-sex marriage remains prohibited are just a tiny bit more likely to want to stay where they are. It’s just a 6 percent difference within the possible range, not an indicator of an important cultural difference.

The Gallup poll actually shows a great deal of variety within each of the two groups of states. States that have legalized same-sex marriage, for example, include Connecticut and Illinois, which are among the states that people most want to leave, but it also includes Maine, New Hampshire, and Hawaii, which are among the states that people most want to keep living in. There is similar variability among states where same-sex marriage is banned.

This pattern suggests that, when most people make decisions about whether they want to move to another state, they usually hold the laws regarding same-sex marriage in their states as a relatively low priority. There is not likely to be a great exodus from states that legalize same-sex marriage, but no great surge of migration to them either.

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