LGBT Inclusion Linked to Countries Economic Performance

Author: Williams Institute
Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014
Summary: Study analyzes impact of treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people on economic development in emerging economies and selected countries.

Greater inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in emerging economies is positively associated with a country's economic development, according to a study released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partners in the LGBT Global Development Partnership. The findings suggest that LGBT equality should be part of economic development programs and policies.

"This research provides a new window into understanding the extent to which stigma and discrimination against LGBT people affect a country's economy," said lead author, M. V. Lee Badgett, Williams Distinguished Scholar and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The study analyzes the impact of the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people on economic development in 39 emerging economies and other selected countries, and presents findings that demonstrate a link between LGBT rights and economic output. The study uses, for the first time, the Global Index on Legal Recognition of Homosexual Orientation (GILRHO, created by Dutch law professor Kees Waaldijk) which establishes eight categories of legal recognition and protection for lesbians and gay men. The study also uses a provisional index on transgender rights.

The study finds:

The researchers also found substantial evidence in many countries that discrimination and violence against LGBT people create economic harms for individuals that also affect a country's economic performance.

For example:

"By showing the link that stigma and discrimination against LGBT individuals have to a country's economic well-being, the issue of bigotry is not just understood by those who are LGBT, but for anyone who cares about that country's economic growth," said Claire Lucas, Senior Advisor for the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID.

The researchers recommend further research and data development efforts in order to better understand the links between LGBT inclusion and economic development, some of which are possible with existing data and some which require the collection of new data. This study is a first important step as it shows one of the many factors relevant to increasing economic growth and human development, a priority of USAID and its programs.

"Including 21 countries where USAID works and drawing on systematic new measures of the legal environment, this research delineates the macro and micro-level costs of not having an LGBT-inclusive workforce," said Stephen O'Connell, USAID's Chief Economist. "The report documents a robust macro-level correlation between LGBT rights and economic development, operating within and across countries and controlling for other factors. The authors cite extensive evidence that at the micro level, causality runs from rights to incomes. The linkages explored here have potentially critical policy and programmatic implications."

Full Report:

The study's authors are M.V. Lee Badgett, Williams Distinguished Scholar and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Sheila Nezhad, former Public Policy Fellow at the Williams Institute; Kees Waaldijk, Professor of Comparative Sexual Orientation Law, Leiden Law School, The Netherlands and former McDonald/Wright Chair of Law, The Williams Institute; and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, Professor and Undergraduate Director in the Women's and Gender Studies department at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

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