The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments

The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments

Edited by William S. Comanor

To understand the issues involved, leading lawyers and economists examine various facets of the child support system from a law and economics perspective. They consider the incentives faced by both custodial and non-custodial parents, and search for policy actions that are more incentive-compatible for all participants. The assumptions underlying current child support guidelines are discussed, as are the ways in which child support payments affect family structure, teenage delinquency and income disparities between parents.

Chapter 10: Family structure and child support: what matters for youth delinquency rates?

William S. Comanor and Llad Phillips

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

William S. Comanor and Llad Phillips INTRODUCTION Although there is a considerable literature on the effect of family structure on the performance of children, relatively little attention has been directed to the different alternatives that exist when a biological parent is absent. For the most part, earlier studies have focused on the presence or absence of a child’s father, and asked whether his presence makes a difference for various measures of performance. Strikingly, there is near universal agreement that children who are raised in the presence of both mother and father do better along various dimensions as compared with those who live in alternative arrangements. In most cases, these studies assume that the child remains with his or her mother, for that is generally the case. In our earlier paper on this subject,1 we examined those issues using a data set from 1980. In that paper, we investigated whether the probability that a boy would be charged with a crime between the ages of 14 and 22 differed as between three alternate family structures: (1) mother and father together; (2) mother and no man present; and (3) mother and some other man present, be it stepfather or boyfriend. We reported that both the first and second categories had preferred outcomes in terms of lower probabilities of being charged with a crime as compared with the third. Those findings implied that the primary factor leading to a boy’s delinquent behaviour was not so much the presence...

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