The Impact of the Affordable Care Act Young Adult Provision on Marriage and Childbearing: Evidence from Tax Data
Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 10:35 AM
Tequesta (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
We use a panel data set of U.S. tax records spanning 2008-2013 to study the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement to allow young adult dependents to be covered by their parents’ insurance policies on two important demographic variables: marriage and childbearing. Prior to the passage of the ACA, married children were generally not allowed on their parents’ insurance plan, but the ACA provision allows dependents to stay on their parent’s plan regardless of marital status, and thus might increase marriage rates. Further, the provision may increase young adults’ disposable income, which also might lead to an increase in marriage. On the other hand, if the provision leads to an increase in post-secondary school attendance, it may result in marriage being delayed. The impact on childbearing is similarly ambiguous, as having access to parental insurance may increase access to contraceptive services, while at the same time reducing the out of pocket costs of childbirth. Since tax data record access to employer provided fringe benefits on W-2 forms, we are able to examine the impact of the coverage expansion by focusing on young adults whose parents have access to benefits, and comparing young adults who are slightly younger than the age threshold in the law to young adults who are slightly older. Our preliminary results suggest that the ACA young adult provision led to a modest increase in childbearing, but may have led to a decrease in marriage rates.