The Corner

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Dutch Debate


Earlier this week, in “Dutch Decline,” Dutch columnist Joshua Livestro argued that same-sex marriage has helped to weaken marriage in The Netherlands. Now come the usual attempts to dismiss the data without confronting the arguments at hand. This blogger, for example, suggests that the declining rate of Dutch marriage might be an effect of aging population. That explanation doesn’t work. The declining rate of Dutch marriage is the converse of what demographers agree is a rapidly rising rate of Dutch parental cohabitation. If it were just a question of there being too few available Dutch couples, then we wouldn’t be seeing more parental cohabitation. Clearly, Dutch parents who could have gotten married have decided to cohabit instead. That’s why the marriage rate is falling and the out-of-wedlock birthrate is rising. Our blogger says “it boggles the mind” that any of this could be connected to gay marriage. Yet I’ve shown in “Going Dutch?” that the Dutch themselves connect gay marriage to increased acceptance of parental cohabitation. And here we get the same old refusal as with other critics to meet my original points about Scandinavian marriage rates and cohabitation rates. Notice also that this blogger had nothing to say about Livestro’s striking stats on the low number of same-sex couples actually marrying. So it’s more of the same. Critics of the argument that gay marriage has undermined marriage in Scandinavia and Western Europe don’t really answer the points at hand.