Low-skilled men, especially minorities, typically work at low levels and provide little support for their children. Conservatives blame this on government willingness to support families, which frees the fathers from responsibility, while liberals say that men are denied work by racial bias or the economy--either a lack of jobs or low wages, which depress the incentive to work. The evidence for all these theories is weak. Thus, changing program benefits or incentives is unlikely to solve the men's work problem. More promising is the idea of linking assistance with administrative requirements to work, as was done in welfare reform. Few nonworking men receive welfare, but many owe child support. The child support system has begun to develop mandatory work programs to which nonpaying fathers can be assigned if they fail to work and pay their judgments. Evaluations show that such programs can help raise work levels if well implemented. Texas's Noncustodial Parents Choices (NCP Choices) program shows the potential to build work enforcement into the child support system. We recommend that more states develop programs like NCP Choices. The federal government should support that effort by conducting more evaluations and by allowing states to receive federal matching funds for child support work programs, like other enforcement expenses of the child support system. (Author abstract)
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