New Measures of LGBT Acceptance and Inclusion Worldwide

By Andrew R. Flores, Andrew Park and M.V. Lee Badgett
April 2018

Three new studies use groundbreaking measures of LGBT acceptance and inclusion to examine the correlations between the economic, legal and social impact of LGBT inclusion worldwide.

In Polarized Progress: Social Acceptance of LGBT People in 141 Countries, researchers analyzed findings from 11 cross-national, global and regional surveys to develop the LGBT Global Acceptance Index (GAI), a ranking of the social acceptance of LGBT people and rights in each country.

Results show that average levels of acceptance for LGBT people and rights have increased globally since 1980, though acceptance has become more polarized, increasing in the most accepting countries and decreasing in the least.

In Examining the Relationship between Social Acceptance of LGBT People and Legal Inclusion of Sexual Minorities, researchers used the new GAI to examine whether there is a connection between the level of acceptance of LGBT people and the level of inclusiveness of a country’s laws

Findings show that democracies with a commitment to a free press and the rule of law had the strongest relationship between acceptance and legal inclusion.

A third study, Links between Economic Development and New Measures of LGBT Inclusion, tested previous findings that linked inclusion of LGBT people to a country’s economic performan­­ce. Researchers used three new measures of LGBT inclusion: the GAI, the Legal Count Index (LCI), which tallies the number of LGBT-supportive laws in a country, and the Legal Environment Index (LEI), which measures the patterns of adoption of laws.

All three measures showed a positive correlation between LGBT inclusion and GDP per capita:

  • A one-point increase in the GAI was associated with an increase in GDP per capita of $1,506.
  • One additional legal right was associated with an increase of $1,694 in GDP per capita.
  • Countries with the most inclusive LEI showed an addition of $8,259 in GDP per capita.

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