Great Britain

Children born to same-sex parents do better at school, study suggests

Children raised by same-sex parents from birth perform better at school than those raised by different-sex partners, new research has indicated.

According to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, children with same-sex parents perform better at both primary and secondary education.

The study looked at administrative longitudinal data on 2,971 children with same-sex parents in the Netherlands (2,786 lesbian couples and 185 gay male couples), the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, and more than one million children with different-sex parents.

The data includes all children born between 1998 and 2007, and their educational performance was tracked until 2019.

The researchers clarified that they defined same-sex parents based on detailed household information from the Dutch population registers, rather than by surveying parents.

As a result, they solely studied couples because they could not determine whether a single-parent identifies as gay from the register data.

Lead author Deni Mazrekaj, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, explained that the findings suggest socioeconomic status also had a major 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,” Mr Mazrekaj told 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.”

Mr Mazrekaj explained that once they had controlled for socioeconomic status, the positive association between having same-sex parents and performing well at school was reduced, “but remained positive”. 

He added: "Thus it is likely that other factors also play a role, 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.”

Mr Mazrekaj added that the purpose of the study was to address the lack of previous research into the area.

“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 explained. 

“And this is important because if a child enters a same-sex family through a divorce for instance, it may bias the results.”

In the Netherlands same-sex couples have been able to marry since 2001, and have a registered partnership since 1998, say the authors.

You can see the study in full here.

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