Marriage Lock? An Examination of the Relationship between Health Insurance Coverage and Marital Dissolution

Tara L. Becker, University of California, Los Angeles

Marriage conveys a host of legal, social, and economic benefits upon those who enter it. Among these is access to dependent health insurance coverage. For those who depend on this coverage, divorce means the loss of that coverage and the financial stability that it provides. This paper uses data from the 1999-2009 waves of the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID) to determine whether health insurance coverage is associated with lower rates of marriage dissolution. Using a sample of 2,078 new marriages and discrete-time survival analysis, I examine whether couples who have continuous health insurance coverage are less likely to end their marriage than couples who have unstable or no coverage. Results suggest that stable health insurance coverage is significantly associated with lower marital dissolution rates and this effect cannot be explained by differences in demographic and human capital characteristics between those with continuous coverage and those without.

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Presented in Session 188: Cohort Change and Inequality in Divorce