Children raised by same-sex parents from birth perform better academically than children raised by different-sex couples, according to new research from the Netherlands.
The study, which was published in the American Sociological Review in September, was conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford (UK) and Maastricht University (the Netherlands). It claims that children with same-sex parents outperform others at both primary and secondary school levels.
The study reviewed the administrative longitudinal data of 2971 children with same-sex parents in the Netherlands. Exactly 2786 children’s parents were lesbian couples, while 185 children had gay male couples as parents.
It compared their data with more than one million children with different-sex parents.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, according to The Independent. The researchers say that same-sex couples have been getting married in the country since 2001, while registered partnerships have been allowed since 1998.
The data included all children born between 1998 and 2007 and their academic performance was tracked until 2019.
The researchers said that they did not survey parents. Instead, they defined same-sex parents using the detailed household information taken from the Dutch population registers. Therefore, the study only focused on couples because the register data could not indicate a single parent’s sexual orientation.
Deni Mazrekaj, the lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at Oxford, said that the results suggest that the socioeconomic status of parents also had a significant impact on how well the children performed at school.
“We found that same-sex parents are often wealthier, older and more educated than the typical different-sex couple,” Mazrekaj said to Unilad. “Same-sex couples often have to use expensive fertility treatments and adoption procedures to have a child, meaning they tend to have a high level of wealth.”
Mazrekaj explained that once they took socioeconomic status into account, the ‘positive association’ between strong academic performance and having same-sex parents was reduced ‘but remained positive’.
“Thus it is likely that other factors play a role,” he said. “For instance, these are wanted pregnancies and same-sex parents are also very likely to be highly motivated to become parents given the procedures they have to undergo to have children.
“Nonetheless, we only had data on the socioeconomic status, the rest is just a hypothesis, and future studies should address this,” said Mazrekaj.
He added that the study was conducted in order to address the dearth of knowledge in this particular area of study.
“We were aware that the previous literature had major shortcomings: either very low sample sizes or they could study only a single point in time, so they couldn’t properly study children who were raised by same-sex parents over a longer period from birth,” he said.
“And this is important because if a child enters a same-sex family through a divorce for instance, it may bias the results.”