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The impact of child support enforcement policy on nonmarital childbearing

Author

Listed:
  • Robert D. Plotnick

    (University of Washington)

  • Irwin Garfinkel

    (Columbia University)

  • Sara S. McLanahan

    (Princeton University)

  • Inhoe Ku

    (Seoul National University)

Abstract

The interaction of welfare and child support regulations has created a situation in which child support policy's incentives that discourage unwed fatherhood tend to be stronger than its incentives that encourage unwed motherhood. This suggests that more stringent child support enforcement creates incentives that reduce the likelihood of nonmarital childbearing, particularly among women with a significant chance of needing public assistance in the event of a nonmarital birth and their male partners. We investigate this hypothesis with a sample of women from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, to which we add information on state child support enforcement. We examine childbearing behavior between the ages of 15 and 44 before marriage and during periods of non-marriage following divorce or widowhood. The estimates indicate that women living in states with more effective child support enforcement are less likely to bear children when unmarried, especially if they are young, never-married, or black. The findings suggest that improved child support enforcement may be a potent intervention for reducing nonmarital childbearing. © 2006 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert D. Plotnick & Irwin Garfinkel & Sara S. McLanahan & Inhoe Ku, 2007. "The impact of child support enforcement policy on nonmarital childbearing," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(1), pages 79-98.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:26:y:2007:i:1:p:79-98
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20228
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harry J. Holzer & Paul Offner & Elaine Sorensen, 2005. "Declining employment among young black less-educated men: The role of incarceration and child support," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 329-350.
    2. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 33-64, December.
    3. Leonard M. Lopoo & Thomas DeLeire, 2006. "Did welfare reform influence the fertility of young teens?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 275-298.
    4. McKinley L. Blackburn, 2000. "Welfare Effects on the Marital Decisions of Never-Married Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 116-142.
    5. Chien-Chung Huang & James Kunz & Irwin Garfinkel, 2002. "The effect of child support on welfare exits and re-entries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 557-576.
    6. Robert I. Lerman & Elaine Sorenson, 2003. "Child Support: Interactions between Private and Public Transfers," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 587-628 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Favara, Marta & Lavado, Pablo & Sanchez, Alan, 2016. "Understanding Teenage Fertility, Cohabitation, and Marriage: The Case of Peru," IZA Discussion Papers 10270, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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