Population-Based Study Shows No Difference in Outcomes Among Children Raised by Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Families in the Netherlands

For Immediate Release:
February 23, 2017

Media Contact:
Noel Alumit, alumit@law.ucla.edu
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Population-Based Study Shows No Difference in Outcomes Among Children Raised by Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Families in the Netherlands 

This is the first Dutch study based on a nationally representative sample to compare both male and female same-sex parent families with different-sex parent families 

LOS ANGELES – A new study found that there was no difference in child outcomes among Dutch same-sex and different-sex parent families. Based upon a nationally representative sample from the Netherlands, the study compared same-sex and different-sex parent households on children’s psychological well-being, parenting stress, and the parents’ use of informal and formal support in child rearing.

Key findings from the study include:

  • There were no significant differences found on any assessment of children’s psychological well-being in female same-sex and male same-sex parent households versus different-sex parent households.
  • This similarity in child outcomes regardless of household type parallels the results of most other studies on same-sex parent households, including an earlier American study.
  • Mothers in different-sex parent households and fathers in same-sex parent households felt less competent in child rearing than their counterparts.
  • For all parents in the current investigation, analyses showed that being worried about child rearing was a significant predictor for reporting higher levels of problem behavior in their children.

“Our findings are consistent with many international studies using community samples showing that family functioning—not whether the parents are same-sex or different-sex—is the key ingredient for healthy child development,” said co-author Nanette Gartrell, a psychiatrist and a Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar.

“It is important to compare children whose backgrounds are similar,” said Douglas NeJaime, UCLA Professor of Law, Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director at the Williams Institute. “In the United States, courts have thrown out the testimony of witnesses who introduced studies comparing children of same-sex parents who had experienced family transitions–adoption, foster care, parental divorce/separation, etcetera–with children of different-sex parents in families who had not experienced these transitions.”

Lead author Dr. Henny Bos, from the University of Amsterdam, added, “This study is pertinent to family therapists, practitioners, court officials, and policymakers who seek information on parenting experiences and child outcomes in female and male same-sex parent families.”

The study, A Population-based Comparison of Female and Male Same-Sex Parent and Different-Sex Parent Households, was published in Family Process, a peer-reviewed academic journal, and co-authored by Williams Institute affiliated researchers Henny M.W. Bos, PhD, and Nanette K. Gartrell, MD, along with Lisette Kuyer, PhD. The authors utilized data derived from the Dutch study “Youth and Development” which was carried out by The National Institute of Social Research | SCP (SCP) in collaboration with Statistics Netherlands.

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