Estimating the Economic Boost of Marriage Equality in Rhode Island
By Angeliki Kastanis, M.V. Lee Badgett
Extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in Rhode Island would bring an estimated $7 million to the state and local economy, including $5.5 million in additional wedding spending and $1.5 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests. Based on Rhode Island’s rates of 7 percent sales tax and 6 percent hotel and lodging tax, $530,000 in tax revenue will be generated for the state in the first three years same-sex couples may marry. The boost in travel spending will generate approximately 26 jobs in the state.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 2,785 same-sex couples live in Rhode Island. Of those couples, 808 marriage licenses will be issued within the first three years after the passage of marriage equality, according to the pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere. This figure also takes into account the Rhode Island couples that may have married in other states. Rhode Island is situated near Connecticut and other New England states that currently allow marriage for same-sex couples.
This report does not include spending estimates for out-of-state same-sex couples that might travel to Rhode Island to marry, spending additional funds on wedding planning and tourism during their brief stay. It is important to note that also allowing out-of-state same-sex couples the opportunity to wed will likely result in further economic gains for Rhode Island businesses.