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Dunning Delinquent Dads: The Effects of Child Support Enforcement on Child Support Receipt by Never Married Women

  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Jane Waldfogel

Since the mid-1970s, the number of single-parent families has increased greatly in the U.S., contributing to the nation's child poverty problem. In response, the federal government and various states have tried to increase child support payments from non-custodial parents. Using data from administrative records and from the child support modules in the Survey of Income Program and Participation (SIPP) and the April and March Current Population Surveys (CPS), we find that the proportion of never married mothers receiving child support rose sharply in the 1980s and 1990s, with the largest increases in states where child support payment were particularly modest. Using within-state variation over time to determine the effect of policy on child support payments, we estimate that increased government expenditures on child support policies are responsible for about one fifth of the upward trend. Our results show that child support expenditures and tougher child support legislation policies work best in tandem. States that both increased expenditures and adopted tougher laws experienced the largest increase in the proportion of never married mothers receiving support.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6664.

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Date of creation: Jul 1998
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Publication status: published as Freeman, Richard B. and Jane Waldfogel. "Dunning Delinquent Dads: The Effect Of Child Support Enforcement Policy On Child Support Receipt By Never Married Women, Dunning Delinquent Dads: The Effect Of Child Support Enforcement Policy On Child Support Receipt By Never Married Women," Journal of Human Resources, 2001, v36(2,Spring), 207-225.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6664
Note: CH
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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Why Do So Many Young American Men Commit Crimes and What Might We Do about It?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 25-42, Winter.
  2. I. Garfinkel & P. K. Robins, . "The relationship between child support enforcement tools and child support outcomes," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1004-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  3. Thomas Hanson & Irwin Garfinkel & Sara Mclanahan & Cynthia Miller, 1996. "Trends in child support outcomes," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 483-496, November.
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