By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Reporter

Inclusive policies for LGBT linked to greater productivity, economic growth

Posted on August 18, 2015

THE ABSENCE of a national policy against gender discrimination may be holding back economic growth, a US economist said, citing the dampening effect on labor productivity if workers are not protected from harassment.

Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community take part in a parade in Manila. -- AFP
“There’s a very direct causal relation with economic development. Inclusion makes people better able to fully use their full capacity and that leads to better economic outputs,” M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a forum hosted by the committee on women and gender equality at the House of Representatives yesterday.

“Research supports the fact that LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders) people have greater job commitment if they are treated equally.”

Ms. Badgett said the lack of mechanisms to ensure equal rights for the LGBT community makes them reluctant to fully participate in society due to possible discrimination.

“The costs to the economy of these forms of exclusionary treatment include lost labor time, productivity, underinvestment in human capital, and the inefficient allocation of human resources through discrimination in education and hiring practices.”

Ms. Badgett cited preliminary World Bank data using India as case study which tried to measure the overall economic impact caused by lack of LGBT protections, with bullying dampening a person’s drive to continue with schooling, weighing on skills development and willingness to work in a non-supportive environment.

Lost productivity from the LGBT work force in India could lead to billions of dollars in lost gross domestic product (GDP), she added.

“I still found that there is a fairly large economic effect that ranges from 0.1% of the whole Indian GDP to as much as 1.4% of total output. The Indian economy would be roughly 1% or so larger if they treated LGBT people fully equally,” Ms. Badgett said.

The economist said that while no research has been conducted on the Philippines, the findings for India, also a developing country, could turn out to be “similar” though the magnitude of the effect may vary.

Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene J. Bag-ao, one of the authors of the anti-sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) discrimination bill at the House, said that while the measure was of urgent importance, it has a very slim chance of seeing passage at the moment.

“Here in Congress, they think it’s not urgent. I won’t be surprised if they hold that while we finish our other priorities,” Ms. Bag-ao said during the hearing, adding that opposition from church-based groups also poses a big hurdle.

The SOGI bill has clinched committee approval, but has not been released for plenary debate.

Ms. Badgett said that LGBT inclusion should be considered as one of many windows which a country may work on to better improve economic growth.

“Countries that are trying to increase their level of economic development might see LGBT inclusion as a means to that end,” she said.