Same-sex marriage could be a $650 million boost to the Australian economy

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The legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia could contribute more than $650 million to the economy annually.

That’s according to ANZ senior economist Cherelle Murphy, who’s run some numbers on what benefits may flow if a “yes” vote is signed into law.

Murphy said that most of the gains would come from money spent on weddings, with pent-up demand driving gains across “retail trade, hospitality, arts and recreation, and professional services (pre-nuptial agreements and divorce)”.

In predicting a sharp spike in wedding activity, Murphy cited the example of the ACT in 2013, where same-sex marriage was legalised for 35 days before the ruling was reversed by the High Court.

In that time period, 31 same-sex couples registered to get married which represented 12% of the total.

“This was clearly an over-representation of same-sex weddings,” Murphy said.

Although it highlighted other positive flow-on effects, the analysis showed that benefits from weddings alone would likely meet the $650 million estimate.

To arrive at that figure, Murphy based her forecast on the 2016 census, which showed that there were almost 47,000 same-sex couples in Australia.

ANZ’s analysis assumes that around half of that total will go ahead and get married if legally permitted to do so.

In reaching an estimate of 50%, ANZ based its conclusion on the following evidence

— a 2010 study by the University of Queensland, which found that around half of Australian same-sex couples would choose to marry; and
— a 2016 US telephone survey, which found that 61% of same-sex couples got married following the US Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 that prevented individual states from banning same-sex marriage.

And according to Murphy’s research, not only will more than 20,000 same-sex couples choose to marry, but they’ll also be ready to splash some cash.

Murphy again cited research from the 2016 census which showed that a higher number of same-sex couple earn more than $100,000 a year:

The latest projections follow earlier research from ANZ in 2015, which estimated that the economic benefit of the wedding-effect would be $500-550 million.

Aside from the wedding-effect, Murphy said that Australian consumer confidence could also get a boost from a “yes” vote, given that recent polls suggest the majority of Australian support marriage equality.

Murphy added that the total dollar-value impact of legalised same-sex marriage would still be small relative to the size of Australia’s economy.

“While the macroeconomic implications of the sum are minuscule, for some sectors the impact will be more meaningful,” Murphy said.

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