In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Since that time, it has been widely viewed as one of the most supportive nations in the world for same-sex couples.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Netherlands was chosen as the location of a recent study that looked at the educational performance of children born to homosexual couples.
The study examined parental information, educational performance and family income of children born in the Netherlands from 1995-2005. Altogether, it tracked 1,200 kids raised by same-sex couples, and more than one million raised by different-sex couples.
Researchers found that children raised by same-sex couples had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school, and were nearly 7 per cent more likely to graduate from high school, compared to their counterparts who were raised by different-sex couples.
"Children from same-sex couples outperform children from different-sex couples on standardized test scores at the end of primary education by 0.18 standard deviations,” researchers wrote. "Our results suggest that children from same-sex couples are 6.7 per cent more likely to graduate than children from different-sex couples."
There are a few reasons for this, according to the data. Same-sex parents are often better off financially, are older, and have more education than a typical different-sex couple. Researchers also found that same-sex couples often turn to fertility treatments to start their families, which indicates that they are not only extremely driven to have a child, but they also have the means to do so.
"Research shows that socio-economic status positively influences the school outcome of children," said Deni Mazrekaj, economist and lead author of the study.
Interestingly, when researchers controlled for income and wealth, while there was a much smaller gap between the test scores of children born to same-sex parents and different-sex parents, children of homosexual couples still scored higher.
One reason for this could have something to do with their overall well-being. In 2014, a similar study was conducted in Australia that looked at health outcomes of children raised by same-sex parents, which found that they are generally happier and healthier than their peers. Research suggests that this is in part due to gay and lesbian couples sharing childcare and work responsibilities more equally than heterosexual couples.