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

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  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Jane Waldfogel

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard B. Freeman & Jane Waldfogel, 1998. "Dunning Delinquent Dads: The Effects of Child Support Enforcement on Child Support Receipt by Never Married Women," NBER Working Papers 6664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6664
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Hanson & Irwin Garfinkel & Sara Mclanahan & Cynthia Miller, 1996. "Trends in child support outcomes," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 33(4), pages 483-496, November.
    2. I. Garfinkel & P. K. Robins, "undated". "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. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Irwin Garfinkel & Theresa Heintze & Chien-Chung Huang, 2001. "Child Support Enforcement: Incentives and Well-Being," JCPR Working Papers 215, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    2. Anne Case & I-Fen Lin & Sara McLanahan, 2000. "Understanding Child Support Trends: Economic, Demographic, and Political Contributions," NBER Working Papers 8056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Anne C. Case & I-Fen Lin & Sara McLanahan, 2002. "Explaining Child Support Trends: Economic, Demographic, and Policy Effects," JCPR Working Papers 267, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    4. Ian Walker & Gillian Paull & Yu Zhu, 2000. "Child support reform: some analysis of the 1999 White Paper," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 105-140, March.
    5. C. Huang & I. Garfinkel & J. Waldfogel, "undated". "Child Support and Welfare Caseloads," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1218-00, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.

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