A study released this week argues that the legalization of same-sex marriage--and through it, the increased number of same-sex weddings--will bring an additional $54 million to Arizona's economy each year.
The study, conducted by the personal finance group NerdWallet, also found that same-sex marriage would bring more than $2.5 billion dollars to the national economy.
"The nation's $51 billion wedding industry, which employs over 800,000 people, now has plenty of new market opportunities in 32 states, parts of Missouri and in Washington, D.C., all places that allow same-sex marriage," the study says. "So NerdWallet asked: What is the economic impact if all 50 states legalized same-sex marriage?"
Sreekar Jasthi, the NerdWallet analyst who conducted the study, opted not to focus on the impact already felt in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized. "We found that it doesn't really predict future spending, because marriage rates are kind of inflated in the first years after legalization," Jasthi said.
At the same time, many same-sex marriages that take place immediately following legalization are done quickly and without a full-fledged wedding. Arizona saw exactly that when same-sex marriage was legalized on October 17.
"When same-sex marriage has been legal for several years, our assumption is couples will be able to spend more time planning their weddings, and they spend more money on the ceremony," Jasthi writes.
So Jasthi's study instead examined a simple set of facts: the overall marriage rates in each state, the average consumer spending on weddings in each state, and the percentage of each state's population that self-identifies as gay. Using those numbers, he predicted the number of same-sex weddings that might take place "in a U.S. where gay marriage is legal, across the country."
Arizona is not one of the states with the highest projected economic gains; those are California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
But with 3.9 percent of our population identifying as LGBT on Gallup polls--a number Jasthi says is likely lower than the actual rate--and census statistics showing that Arizona's marriage rate is about .08 percent, Jasthi predicts the state will eventually see well over 2,000 same-sex marriages per year. With the average Arizona wedding currently costing $25,332, Jasthi predicts same-sex weddings could eventually pump $53,682,762 into the state's economy yearly.
Jasthi says the study wasn't about politics at all. His company simply seeks to bring transparency to data, he says, particularly to highlight economic trends.
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The full study can be found here.
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