A new Williams Institute report estimates the economic impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples in Washington State on local businesses and government budgets. The report finds that the total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests will add an $88-million boost to the Washington economy over the first three years. This spending is likely to generate $8 million in tax revenue for state and local governments.
The figures in the report draw upon data on average wedding expenditures in Washington and tourism reports from 2010, along with data regarding marriage expenses by same-sex couples in other states.
The report considers that couples in existing registered domestic partnerships might have different spending patterns from couples that do not have that status. Even if there was no new spending by the 7,518 couples currently in registered domestic partnerships, the state would see an estimated increase in spending of $18 million and a tax boost of $1.6 million.
According to Census 2010, there are 19,003 resident same-sex couples in Washington State. Of the 19,003 couples, the report estimates that 50%, or about 9,500 couples, will choose to marry in the three years following the opening of marriage to same-sex couples in Washington.
“Our study estimates that resident same-sex couples will spend $39 million on weddings in Washington in the first year alone,” said co-author Angeliki Kastanis, Public Policy Research Fellow at the Williams Institute. Added Kastanis, “That translates to approximately $3.4 million in tax revenue, given Washington sales tax rates.”
Notably, the spending estimates in the report do not include out-of-state same-sex couples that decide to travel to Washington to marry. Out-of-state couples would generate additional spending on wedding-related goods and services and, most likely, on tourism-related goods and services. According to the recent U.S. Census, there are more than 129,000 same-sex couples living in the five states that send the most visitors to Washington. A sizable impact on the state and local economy may occur if even a small percentage of these couples decide to travel to Washington to marry.