There is great variation in views on and treatment of minorities such as gay men across the world. We are the first to pinpoint what features of societies that are beneficial to gay men’s quality of life by making use of a unique new cross-country dataset covering 110 countries, the Gay Happiness Index. It covers how gays perceive public opinion about them, how they experience behavior towards them and how satisfied they are with their lives.
Our study is based on the premise that it is important to look at minority-specific effects of policies and institutions and not solely at the effects for the average citizen, as well as the transmission mechanisms through which policies and institutions affect life satisfaction.
We find that legal rights for gay men, GDP per capita, democracy and economic globalization tend to benefit gays, primarily by shaping public opinion and behavior in a pro-gay direction, while religion and living in a post-communist country exert a negative effect. These factors have largely been shown to matter for the well-being of people in general as well, which interestingly implies that “special rights” are not necessarily needed for gays but the same policies that provide a good life for most people.