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The Impact of the Affordable Care Act Young Adult Provision on Childbearing, Marriage, and Tax Filing Behavior: Evidence from Tax Data


  • Bradley Heim
  • Ithai Lurie
  • Kosali I. Simon


We use panel U.S. tax data spanning 2008-2013 to study the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) young adult provision on two important demographic outcomes—childbearing and marriage. The impact on childbearing is theoretically ambiguous, as gaining insurance may increase access to contraceptive services, while also reducing the out-of-pocket costs of childbirth. The impact on marriage is also ambiguous, as marriage rates may decrease when young adults have less need for dependent health insurance through a spouse, but may increase when they are now allowed to stay on their parent’s plans even if they are married. Changes in childbearing and marriage can, in turn, lead to changes in the likelihood of filing a tax return. Since W-2 forms record access to employer-provided fringe benefits, we were able to examine the impact of the coverage expansion by focusing on young adults whose parents have access to benefits. We compare those who are slightly younger than the age threshold to those who are slightly older. Our results suggest that the ACA young adult provision led to a modest decrease in childbearing and marriage rates, though the propensity to file a tax return did not change significantly.

Suggested Citation

  • Bradley Heim & Ithai Lurie & Kosali I. Simon, 2017. "The Impact of the Affordable Care Act Young Adult Provision on Childbearing, Marriage, and Tax Filing Behavior: Evidence from Tax Data," NBER Working Papers 23092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23092
    Note: CH HC HE LS PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barbaresco, Silvia & Courtemanche, Charles J. & Qi, Yanling, 2015. "Impacts of the Affordable Care Act dependent coverage provision on health-related outcomes of young adults," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 54-68.
    2. Erin Strumpf, 2010. "Employer-sponsored health insurance for early retirees: impacts on retirement, health, and health care," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 105-147, June.
    3. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    4. Yaa Akosa Antwi & Asako S. Moriya & Kosali Simon, 2013. "Effects of Federal Policy to Insure Young Adults: Evidence from the 2010 Affordable Care Act's Dependent-Coverage Mandate," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 1-28, November.
    5. Phillip B. Levine & Robin McKnight & Samantha Heep, 2011. "How Effective Are Public Policies to Increase Health Insurance Coverage among Young Adults?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 129-156, February.
    6. Aaron S. Yelowitz, 1998. "Will Extending Medicaid to Two-Parent Families Encourage Marriage?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 833-865.
    7. David M. Zimmer, 2007. "Asymmetric Effects Of Marital Separation On Health Insurance Among Men And Women," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(1), pages 92-106, January.
    8. Ronald Mincy & Jennifer Hill & Marilyn Sinkewicz, 2009. "Marriage: Cause or mere indicator of future earnings growth?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(3), pages 417-439.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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