Deboer v. Snyder – Day 6 Update 2 (final for day)

The afternoon started with the AG calling expert Joseph Price Ph.D, professor in economics at Brigham Young University.

His CV states


Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Brigham Young University, 2013 –
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Brigham Young University, 2007-2013
Faculty Research Fellow, NBER, 2008 –
Research Fellow, IZA, 2010-
Associate Editor, Economics of Education Review, 2014-


Ph.D. Economics, Cornell University, 2007.
B.A. Economics, Brigham Young University, 2003.

His publications include many topics including the NBA, healthy foods, and more recently child outcomes of children of same sex couples.  He has three professional affiliations, including being a fellow at the Austin Institute (founded by Mark Regnerus).

He stated that he received funding from the Witherspoon Institute to verify the empirical data discussed in Perry.  He removed this funding source from his grant list in his CV because the funding was out right compensation rather than an award of a competitive grant as the others in the list were, and because the Witherspoon Institute had received negative publicity from funding they provided to Mark Regnerus.

He served as an expert witness through submission of his report in the Utah, Idaho,
and Virginia marriage decisions.  He was a signatory on an amicus brief that was submitted to the US Supreme Court and “other states”.  He served as an expert in the Bassett case in Michigan, challenging the State’s ability to provide domestic partner benefits.

He testified he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and holds personal religious views about same sex marriage.  However, he states that using empirical data means that he relies only on the data and has open and transparent discussions about his research.   He stated that he will discuss statistical significance vs. economic significance.

On voir dire he stated that he does not have expertise in child development, but can testify to child outcomes.  He has no expertise in psychology or methods used in psychology research.  He has no expertise in psychiatry and is not familiar with types of factors psychologists consider to be potential mechanisms that predict outcomes.  He is not trained in sociology but economics and sociology sometimes overlap.  Not trained in social work.  His first article on parenting and same sex parenting was published in 2012.

Judge certified him as an expert for economics only, and preserved the plaintiff’s objection as to any testimony that exceeds that qualification.

Dr. Price testified that in studying same sex parenting, he took the Rosenfeld study, which he complimented as a “quantum leap” in studying these subjects.  However, his position was that there were two problems with the study.  First that the results do not include a standard error factor.  Second, he said that the study “throws away children” who should be included in the study.  He clarified later that he meant that the data for these children was disregarded.  In explaining this, he went into detail to show that the Rosenfeld survey grouped the subject children into those that were the parents “own” children, and further grouped the children by those who lived in the same residence with the same parents five years earlier.  In Dr. Prince’s opinion, this allows the study to encompass more children and therefore be a more precise study.  He stated that adjusting for these circumstances “cuts off two of the variables that predict outcomes – biological relatedness and stability”.

He stated that restricting the calculations to the sample used by Rosenfeld, there was no difference in the outcome of child progression through school between any of the groups.  Eliminating ½ of the children with the stability and biological relatedness factors reduced the precision of the study.

He re-ran the data with the whole sample group included and not adjusting for stability and biological relatedness, and found a noticeable difference in the groups.  In unrestricted data, the outcomes were 35% higher than same sex couples.  In other words, the odds of children raised by same sex couples to be held back a grade by age 11 was 35 times that of children raised by opposite sex couples.  He cited to other studies with similar negative results, including Regnerus, Potter, and Allen.

He gave three explanations as possible reasons for the outcome of his data and why the outcomes may differ based on family structure types:

Parental gender (males and females parent differently)

Biological relatedness

Family stability

Re Gender; Mothers are more nurturing, soothing vocalize more, loving, smile, provide emotional security and safety. Fathers stress competition, spend more time watching TV and take care of outdoor housework.

Parental Gender:  Needs both.  Quotes Popenoe who proposed the juxtaposition of independence vs. relatedness and challenge vs support (Male vs female)

His opinion was that it was unlikely that a father can take the place of a mother and visa versa.  He said that maybe lesbians can adapt and provide both parenting styles, but not likely gay fathers.  He cited male behavior at fraternities and at sporting events as support for them not being able to assume a “motherly” demeanor.

He cited studies done in Norway and Sweden and the Potter study (Early Childhood Longitudinal Study) for the proposition that same sex couples are unstable and have a high rate of transition.

His conclusion was that an ideal environment is to raise children with a mother and father, biologically related and married to each other.

On Cross Examination:

He had no opinion as to what should happen with children who are in foster care or being abandoned by parents.  He admitted that he already believed that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman through his personal and religious beliefs.

He stated that he first started investigating child outcomes in 2007, although it was just a draft of an article and he had not shared that interest with anyone at that time.  In 2010 he was recruited to attend a Heritage Foundation function.  He knew at the time that the Heritage Foundation opposed same sex marriage.  Others in attendance were Alliance Defense Fund, David Blankenhorn (witness at the Prop 8 trial), Maggie Gallagher (president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy), the National Organization for Marriage, Doug Allen and Lauren Marks.  (Prof. Regnerus testified previously that he was also at this conference).  At that conference, they discussed how to go about supporting marriage bans.  It was after this that Dr. Prince received the compensation from the Witherspoon Institute.

As of June 2010 he made a list of projects he wanted to do involving same sex marriage and parenting by same sex couples.  March 2011 he began collecting data and wrote the first draft of the paper.  By November 2011, Doug Allen and a third author had joined the paper.  The Rosenfeld critique was funded by BYU.  He received a stipend of $2000 to join the Austin Institute.

He testified that his hourly rate for being an expert is $300 per hour and that his bill to date is about $15,000, to be paid by the State of Michigan.

He wrote a chapter in a book and set forth several positive outcomes for people who marry, including:  live longer, fewer risky behaviors, earn more money, better child outcomes, behave better when someone is watching, facilitates a wider net of social bonds (in-laws), having legal access to resources of the spouse, and economy of scale.  He was not sure that these benefits would benefit same sex couples or not if they were allowed to marry.  He said that the benefits might just as well attach if the couple co-habitates.  Qn – any reason that they wouldn’t transfer to same sex couples?  Answer:  Can’t give a definitive answer.  But most of the changes due to marriage accrue to men, mostly because women are good at domesticating men when they marry.

He was asked about his opinion that the odds of children of same sex couples being held back at school are 35 times that of opposite sex couples.  When asked him to ascribe a percentage, he was unable to.  He did finally concede that the incidents of any child being held back are rare, and that the increased “odds” would not be all that significant.  He states that he was unable to reject the hypothesis that there are “no differences” between the outcomes of children of same sex couples and the children of opposite sex couples advanced by Dr. Rosenfeld.  He said “but there might be big differences”.

He stated that Dr. Potter’s math data study shows that any difference between the groups disappears when the control is added for family transitions.  He further stated that Dr. Potter’s empirical data is different than he would have done, and that there is an “odd result” that shows that children of single mothers have better outcomes, and because that is not what he would have expected, he would call into the question the empirical method.

Testimony concluded for day.  Will reconvene at 9 am on Wed. 3/5.

Jane Bassett will not be able to be in the courtroom on Wed. 3/5.  We will try to find another source for gathering the information.

3 thoughts on “Deboer v. Snyder – Day 6 Update 2 (final for day)

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