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Demographic change, children's families and child support policy in the United States

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  • J. A. Seltzer
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    This paper describes recent demographic trends affecting families in the United States and considers how these trends may alter the definition of "family." The paper focuses on trends that affect minor children's family experience. Demographic changes have increased the percentage of children for whom family membership and household membership do not coincide. As a result, rights to children and adults' responsibilities for children are less clearly defined now than in the past. This greater ambiguity affects child well-being because children's access to resources, both time and attention as well as material goods, depends on their ties to adults. U.S. family policies, such as the recent child support reforms, work against demographic trends by emphasizing biological over social ties and reinforcing the importance of biological parents' responsibilities to children.

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    File URL: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/dps/pdfs/dp103694.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1036-94.

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    Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1036-94
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    1. H. Peters & Laura Argys & Eleanor Maccoby & Robert Mnookin, 1993. "Enforcing divorce settlements: Evidence from child support compliance and award modifications," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(4), pages 719-735, November.
    2. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1985. "Children as Collective Goods and Divorce Settlements," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-292, July.
    3. Elizabeth Phillips & Irwin Garfinkel, 1993. "Income growth among nonresident fathers: evidence from Wisconsin," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(2), pages 227-241, May.
    4. Irwin Garfinkel & Donald Oellerich, 1989. "Noncustodial Fathers’ Ability to Pay Child Support," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(2), pages 219-233, May.
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