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Health Insurance Mandates and the Marriage of Young Adults: A Comment on Barkowski and McLaughlin


  • Aaron M. Gamino


Writing in the Journal of Human Resources, Scott Barkowski and Joanne Song McLaughlin (2022) explore the effect of government mandates regarding providing insurance for dependents (typically the spouse and children) on marriage rates among young adults. At the federal level, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dependent mandate increased the maximum age of an adult child dependent from 18 to 25. In addition, the majority of states enacted dependent mandates, which extended dependent status to children over the age of 18. State mandates commonly require that to be eligible the adult child be unmarried or a student. Barkowski and McLaughlin conclude that state and federal dependent health insurance mandates negatively impacted the likelihood of marriage among young adults. The conclusion is based on a model that omits necessary secondary interactions. In this comment, I describe the problem with their model, replicate the main findings, report results from a model that includes the proper secondary interactions, and assess the model’s effect on insurance outcomes. Corrected models yield small and statistically insignificant results, and the primary model employed in Barkowski and McLaughlin is unable to identify an impact on employer sponsored insurance coverage.

Suggested Citation

  • Aaron M. Gamino, 2023. "Health Insurance Mandates and the Marriage of Young Adults: A Comment on Barkowski and McLaughlin," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 20(1), pages 1-15–33, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:20:y:2023:i:1:p:15-33

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joelle Abramowitz, 2016. "Saying, “I Don’t†: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act Young Adult Provision on Marriage," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 933-960.
    2. Scott Barkowski & Joanne Song McLaughlin & Alex Ray, 2020. "A Reevaluation of the Effects of State and ACA Dependent Coverage Mandates on Health Insurance Coverage," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(3), pages 629-663, June.
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    More about this item


    Health insurance; dependent mandates; marriage; difference-in-differences; difference-in-difference-in-differences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General


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