The Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Women’s Marital Transitions

Awarded Scholars:
Virginia W. Chang, New York University
Siwei Cheng, New York University
Project Date:
Jun 2018
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Traditionally, women’s access to affordable, high-quality insurance has been tied to their marital status. Nearly half of all women with employer-sponsored insurance receive it as a dependent, and women are twice as likely as men to have insurance through their spouse. As a result, marital disruption often results in the loss of dependent private insurance, gaps in coverage, and becoming uninsured. Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides access to health insurance regardless of marital status, it may have weakened the association between marriage and insurance and changed decision-making around marriage and divorce.

Sociologists Virginia Chang and Siwei Cheng will assess the extent to which the ACA is associated with changes in women’s transitions into and out of marriage. Taking advantage of the plausibly exogenous variation introduced by the ACA, they will utilize state, age and temporal variations in policy to examine: 1) marital transitions associated with the Medicaid expansion, and 2) marital transitions associated with the ACA coverage mandate for dependents under the age of 26.


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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