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Welfare and child support: Complements, not substitutes

  • Maria Cancian

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Daniel R. Meyer

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Emma Caspar

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

In most states, child support paid on behalf of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participants is used to offset TANF and child support administrative expenditures; this policy primarily benefits taxpayers. In contrast, Wisconsin allowed most custodial parents to keep all support paid on their behalf. This policy, which treats welfare and child support as complements, was evaluated through an experimental design. This paper reports the key results of the experimental evaluation, using state administrative data to examine the effects on child support outcomes and governmental cost. We find that when custodial mothers keep all child support paid on their behalf, paternity establishment occurs more quickly, noncustodial fathers are more likely to pay support, and custodial families receive more support. These outcomes are achieved at no significant governmental cost. © 2008 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 354-375

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:27:y:2008:i:2:p:354-375
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  1. Cassetty, Judith H. & Hutson, Royce, 2005. "Effectiveness of federal incentives in shaping child support enforcement outcomes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 271-289, March.
  2. John W. Graham & Andrea H. Beller, 1989. "The Effect of Child Support Payments on the Labor Supply of Female Family Heads: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 664-688.
  3. Irwin Garfinkel & Sara Mclanahan & Daniel Meyer & Judith Seltzer, 1998. "Fathers under Fire: The Revolution in Child Support Enforcement in the USA (This CASEpaper is a summary of the book by the same title and authors, published by the Russel Sage Foundation, 1998)," CASE Papers case14, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  4. Maureen R Waller & Robert Plotnick, 2001. "Effective child support policy for low-income families: evidence from street level research," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 89-110.
  5. Maureen A. Pirog & Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, 2006. "Child support enforcement: Programs and policies, impacts and questions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 943-990.
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