Socio-Demographic Portrayal of Same-Sex Couples: New Evidence from the 2011 Census of Canada and Spain

Friday, July 18, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: Booth 54
Oral Presentation
Clara CORTINA , Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Benoit LAPLANTE , Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Canada
Ana Laura FOSTIK , Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Canada
Teresa CASTRO MARTIN , Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain
The global movement towards the recognition of same-sex couples as family units has spread out across countries with very different legal traditions and cultures (Festy and Digoix 2004), but for the moment it is circumscribed to Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Even if legal recognition of same-sex marriages or partnerships implies an increasing statistical visibility, the difficulties in enumerating and portraying same-sex couples with available official data prevail (Festy 2007).

In this paper, we focus on Canada and Spain, two countries which have allowed the identification of same-sex couples in their census form since 2001. The strategy used is different: a specific item in Canada and an indirect path through the relationship between the members of the household in Spain. Moreover, Canada and Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, which implies that the exposure time to marriage is the same in both countries. The joint analysis of the two countries allows comparing a) the effect of the two enumeration procedures and b) the likelihood of same-sex couples of getting married.

Using 2011 census microdata, we first analyze the socio-demographic profile of same-sex partners and spouses (age and education of the spouses; homogamy and spatial distribution of the couples). Second, the article explores the differences between unmarried and married same-sex couples. Third, we focus on the household composition in order to obtain information on same-sex parenting patterns.

Preliminary results for Canada indicate that the proportion of married same-sex couples has increased importantly in this country in the last decade and currently reaches nearly one-third of all same-sex couples living together. They also show that the presence of children and educational homogamy have a strong positive effect on the probability of being married instead of cohabiting for same-sex couples.