The Indiana General Assembly is considering a resolution known as HJR-3 that would ask voters in November to define marriage in the Indiana Constitution as between one man and one woman. The opposition to this resolution has been fierce and is at least partly based on the belief that there will be negative economic effects of the constitutional change. There is every reason to believe that the economic effects of either passing HJR-3 or rejecting it will be negligible. Moreover, appealing to economics trivializes both sides of this debate.
The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce argues that, "The proposed marriage amendment does nothing to help show the nation that Indiana is a place that welcomes all, not just some. And we must be mindful of how actions such as this will impact our competitiveness on a national and global level.” Not surprisingly the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce argues that, “Amending Indiana’s constitution to include a provision that already exists in state law is unnecessary and detracts from the important economic and workforce development challenges that need attention in 2014.” The testimony from executives of Eli Lilly and Co. and Cummins Inc. is that the amendment will hurt their ability to recruit young professionals to the state.
What evidence do we have that these assertions are correct? Neither chambers nor the executives have presented any facts or studies supporting their contentions. Furthermore, we do not know how many members of the chambers or employees of the companies agree with the opinions.
The facts that do exist indicate that same-sex marriage is simply not an economic issue. The Kinsey Center at Indiana University reports that the males who self-identify as homosexual are between 2 and 4 percent of the population while females who self-identify as homosexual are 1 to 2 percent of the population. The primary measure of economic output is gross domestic product, which is tabulated by the federal government on a national and state level. You can think of this as the income for the state. The number is widely reported but most economists understand that it is computed with a substantial error. For the national figure, the error rate in estimating GDP is roughly 4 percent. For state numbers the error rates are certainly the same or higher. To measure the economic impact of a policy, this is the primary measure, and the number of homosexuals are simply too small to have a measurable impact.