OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Assessing the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Young Adult Cohabitation, Marriage, and Childbearing


Rachel Worrell


There are many reasons to believe the expansion of health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act may have impacted individuals’ lives beyond their health. We document the ways in which the ACA changed young adult family formation behaviors. Using data from the 2007-2016 Current Population Surveys and difference-in-difference models with state and year fixed effects, we estimate the effects of the dependent coverage provision and the Medicaid expansion on cohabitation, marriage, and childbearing. We test for heterogeneity by gender, race/ethnicity, education, and poverty status. The dependent coverage provision is associated with higher marriage and lower cohabitation among men; lower marriage among women; and lower cohabitation among those not in poverty. Medicaid expansions are associated with higher marriage for non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic other race individuals, and those without a high school degree, and lower cohabitation for the latter two groups. Implications and next steps are discussed.

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