Younger Californians are more supportive of same-sex marriage, a study has found.

According to the poll, released on Thursday, age is a crucial factor in determining who opposes or

backs gay unions.

Two political scientists analysed 20 years worth of data on the subject, and discovered that while more Californians still oppose same-sex marriage than support it, the margin is closing fast.

50% disapproveand 43% approve.

However, people born in the 1970s and 80s were more than twice as likely to support gay unions as those born before 1940.

A national Pew Research Centre study released in January mirrors the California analysis, finding that 47% of those aged 18 to 25 favoured same sex marriage, compared with 30% of those aged 26 and over.

“Californians born in each decade tend to be more accepting of gay relationships and more willing to grant them legal recognition than those born the decade before,” explained Gregory Lewis of Georgia State University and Charles Gossett of California State Polytechnic University, who conducted the survey.

Same sex couples cannot wed in California at the moment, but these findings suggest that a change in the law is imminent.

“It’s just a matter of time before a majority of California will be supportive of same-sex marriage,” said project director Mark DiCamillo, according to The Guardian.

“It may take 10 years to replace another decade within the age cohorts, but it’s clear every younger generation seems to be more accepting of that.”

California is more tolerant than most states when it comes to gay couples, and the researchers believe its comparatively young population might explain this liberal attitude.

The state has a high percentage of residents under the age of 18.

“Some people call it the Will and Grace factor,” political scientist Charles W Gossett of California State University told mercurynews.com.

Whatever the reason, being openly gay is increasingly accepted.

Besides age, politics is another influencing factor, with liberals seventy six percent in favour, but a mere 15% of conservatives willing to back gay marriage.