Article of the Year Award for family sociologist Deni Mazrekaj

Portret Deni Mazrekaj
Deni Mazrekaj

The Family section of the American Sociological Association (ASA) has judged the article by Assistant Professor Deni Mazrekaj the best article of the past three years. Deni studied the school results of children with same-sex parents.

Deni Mazrekaj, naturally, is “overjoyed”, as he tells us. “ASA is the largest sociology institute , and this is the first time someone outside the US has won this award.” He wrote the article ‘School Outcomes of Children Raised by Same-Sex Parents: Evidence from Administrative Panel Data’ with co-authors Kristof De Witte and Sofie Cabus.

Following children as they grow up

Deni’s article is special in that it is the first peek inside the school performance of children who were raised from birth in families with same-sex parents. Longitudinal data on 2,971 Dutch children made it possible to follow the children during their school career in both primary and secondary education. It is no coincidence that this study was done in the Netherlands, the first country to legalise same-sex marriage. “It has been possible since 2001 for same-sex parents in the Netherlands to marry and adopt children, so the children are old enough to map their entire school career. This is unique.”

Better school performance

And what did the study find? The cohort of children with same-sex parents perform better at school than do children with different-sex parents. Why is this so? This question takes us to Deni’s second achievement: the methodological contribution he has made with this article. “We tried, for the first time, to explain the causes of these disparities. They could be due to the higher socio-economic status that children of same-sex parents have on average. Adoption, for example, is an expensive and complex procedure. But even when correcting for this, these children perform better on average. What might be a factor is their parents being more motivated to have children. Of course, they require greater motivation.”

After I had held a presentation about our study, I suddenly had a microphone from a Washington Post reporter in my face.

Media attention

Last but not least: the article made a big splash. With over 160,000 downloads, it is one of the most-read articles to have been published in the American Sociological Review, says Deni. “We also received a lot of media attention. After I had held a presentation about our study, I suddenly had a microphone from a Washington Post reporter in my face. That made quite an impression, but also other media paid attention. CNN, The Boston Globe, UNILAD, The Independent, De Telegraaf... As many as forty news channels covered the study.”

More coming up

So what’s in the works? A party? “This Article of the Year Award is great for my academic career, of course. But I’ll probably have to skip the award ceremony in August. My wife is pregnant, so I want to stay with her. I think I’ll ask ASA if they would send the award in the post.”