The Impact of Child Support Enforcement Policy on Nonmarital Childbearing.

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Author (Individual)
Robert D. Plotnick
Irwin Garfinkel
Sara S. McLanahan
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A simple model of fatherhood and marriage choice implies that stricter child support enforcement will tend to reduce nonmarital childbearing by raising the costs of fatherhood. We investigate this hypothesis by examining nonmarital childbearing during 1980-1993, a period when child support policy and enforcement underwent enormous changes. We use a sample of women from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, to which we add information on state child support enforcement. We examine childbearing behavior between the ages of 15 and 44, both before marriage and during periods of nonmarriage following divorce or widowhood. Discrete-time hazard models of nonmarital childbearing provide evidence that women living in states with more effective child support collection were less likely to bear children when unmarried. The findings suggest that policies that shift more costs of nonmarital childbearing to men may reduce this behavior. (Author abstract)

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