We believe that the answer lies in a shift from the family as a forum for shared production, to shared consumption. In case the language of economic lacks romance, let’s be clearer: modern marriage is about love and companionship. Most things in life are simply better shared with another person: this ranges from the simple pleasures such as enjoying a movie or a hobby together, to shared social ties such as attending the same church, and finally, to the joint project of bringing up children. Returning to the language of economics, the key today is consumption complementarities--activities that are not only enjoyable, but are more enjoyable when shared with a spouse. We call this new model of sharing our lives “hedonic marriage”.Wolfers now argues that his this hedonic marriage theory explains same-sex marriage:
So is marriage doomed? Marriage in which one person specializes in the home while the other person specializes in the market is indeed doomed. The opportunity cost of having women stay out of the labor force is likely to continue to rise — particularly as young women are surpassing men in educational attainment and higher education is becoming more important for market success.
All of this means that changes in heterosexual marriage have yielded an institution that is now more attractive to same-sex couples. In turn, we believe that this explains why the gay and lesbian community have become so active in advocating for access to marriage.