The Affordable Care Act’s Dependent Eligibility Expansion and Marriage Rates in Young Adults

Brandon Wagner , Texas Tech University

While individuals marry for many reasons, one possible reason to marry is access to health insurance. The use of spousal health insurance is quite common; among working age women, almost one-quarter are dependents on a spousal health plan. Recent changes in health insurance, namely the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), suggest a possible test to determine whether health insurance access influences the marriage decisions. I explore this possibility using the Texas Marriage License Application Index, a comprehensive index of all marriages in the state of Texas. I find that marriage among those newly eligible to stay on parents’ health insurance (twenty-five year-olds) dropped in the period following the dependent eligibility expansion. Using permutation testing to compare the count of marriages in this group to synthetic groupings of previous years’ data, I find evidence that this difference is meaningful. Health insurance access appears to influence individual decisions to marry.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions