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Can Reduced Child Support Make Joint Custody Bad for Children? The Role of Economic Incentives in U.S. Divorce Law on Child Outcomes

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Listed:
  • Fernández-Kranz, Daniel

    () (IE Business School, Madrid)

  • Roff, Jennifer Louise

    () (Queens College, CUNY)

  • Sun, Hugette

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of economic incentives generated by U.S. divorce and custody law on a range of child health and human capital measures. State laws vary widely in the treatment of child support under joint custody. While some states require no child support in joint custody cases, other states require fathers with joint custody to pay the same child support as those without custody. Merging family and child data from the SIPP with state-level data on economic incentives for joint custody, we find that fathers' joint custody decisions are significantly affected by the incentives generated by reduced child support. These incentives have negative effects on children's human capital development and health, with economic incentives for joint custody leading to significantly lower educational attainment as well as worse attitudes toward school and child health. Parental characteristics and time use data suggest that economic incentives for joint custody may limit children's time spent with relatively high quality mothers, as fathers pursue joint custody in response to the policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernández-Kranz, Daniel & Roff, Jennifer Louise & Sun, Hugette, 2018. "Can Reduced Child Support Make Joint Custody Bad for Children? The Role of Economic Incentives in U.S. Divorce Law on Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 12025, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    joint custody; child support; divorce; child outcomes; human capital; health behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I29 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Other
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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