Effects of the ACA on Family and Child Wellbeing

Awarded Scholars:
Leighton Ku, George Washington University
Michael Darden, George Washington University
Project Date:
Jul 2018
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Economic hardship and financial stress are associated with many negative outcomes, including low self-esteem, reduced mental and physical health, marital discord and breakup, and adverse child development. One goal of the ACA was to enhance access to health care through free or subsidized health insurance and, therefore, to increase financial security for families needing care. Prior research has shown that improved parental insurance coverage for low-income families can contribute to improved family functioning and child development.  The differences in state Medicaid expansions under the ACA provide a quasi-experimental environment to assess the downstream effects of expanded Medicaid eligibility, on family and child wellbeing.

Health policy researchers Leighton Ku and Michael Darden will assess the extent to which expanded Medicaid eligibility affected family and child wellbeing by leveraging the variation in state policies.  They will investigate whether expanded access to health care affected the psychological and emotional wellbeing of parents and mitigated some of the negative effects of poverty on child development. 


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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