Jay Michaelson offers an overview:
Two reports released Tuesday contain some surprising new conclusions about why some countries are more accepting of sexual minorities than others. It’s not quite religion, and not quite homophobia. It’s the economy, stupid.
The first report, “Public Attitudes about Homosexuality and Gay Rights Across Time and Countries,” was produced by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and NORC at the University Chicago, and is essentially a survey of surveys, ultimately comprising 2,000 individual survey questions. … Economic development seems to matter most. According to Andrew Park and Andrew Flores of the Williams Institute, “Residents of countries whose economies that are in the top quartile are on average twelve times more likely to be supportive of homosexuality than residents of countries who economies are in the bottom quartile.”
The second report, “The Relationship between LGBT Inclusion and Economic Development: An Analysis of Emerging Economies,” was produced by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, this time in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and studied 39 emerging economies. It, too, shows an overall increase in pro-LGBT policies. Using the Global Index on Legal Recognition of Homosexual Orientation (GILRHO), a new metric of eight categories of legal protection created by Dutch law professor Kees Waaldijk, it finds that the average number of SOGI rights went from one in 1990 to more than three by 2011. And again, money matters. In a neat statistic, the report shows that each additional right in the GILRHO is associated with approximately $320 in GDP per capita.
Michaelson mulls over the relationship:
Which is the chicken and which is the egg? Intuition would suggest that economic development is the cause, and pro-gay policies are the effect. The more affluent a society, the more educated, the more democratic, the more networked, and so on. But the report also suggests that anti-gay policies may harm economic development. The discrimination against, marginalization of, and criminalization of LGBT people removes them from the job market, among other things. “This research delineates the macro- and micro-level costs of not having an LGBT-inclusive workforce,” said Stephen O’Connell, USAID’s chief economist.