The effect of child support on family behavior

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dan Black


Child support, Family behavior, Noncustodial parents, Single-mother families, Labor supply

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Labor Economics


''The Effect of Child Support on Family Behavior'' consists of three essays which examine various effects of child support on family behavior. Each essay is described below.

''The Effect of Child Support on the Labor Supply of Non-Custodial Fathers'' explores the labor supply response of non-custodial fathers to child support payments. Using data on non-custodial fathers from the 1996 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, I estimate two models of labor supply: an hours-worked model and a labor-force-participation model. For estimation of each model, instrumental variables are used to account for the endogeneity of child support payments with a noncustodial father's labor supply. The findings of this paper indicate that higher child support payments considerably increase both the number of hours and the probability a non-custodial works. To the extent that child support enforcement policies are effective at forcing non-custodial fathers to pay child support, the results suggest strengthened child support enforcement will have a positive and fairly large effect on the labor supply of non-custodial fathers.

''How Reliable are the Reports of Child Support Payments by Nonresident Fathers in the 1996 SIPP Panel?'' determines the accuracy of self-reported child support payments by nonresident fathers by comparing the reported child support payments by nonresident to reported child support receipt by child-support eligible mothers. The findings of this paper suggest that nonresident fathers report paying more child support on average than mothers report receiving. Additional findings suggest the discrepancy between the reports of mothers and fathers can be attributed to an issue of nonresponse by nonresident fathers to the CSP survey. ''The Effect of Child Support on the Well-Being of Children in Single-Mother Families'' provides a literature review of empirical studies on the effects of child support policy on various family outcomes. These outcomes may directly or indirectly affect the well-being of children in single-mother families. An evaluation of findings in the literature provides some evidence that child support positively affects the well-being of children in single-mother families.


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