Child Support Regularity and Custodial Mothers’ Employment and Economic Well-Being

Awarded Scholars:
Laura Cuesta, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Alejandra Ros Pilarz, University of Wisconsin
Project Date:
Mar 2021
Award Amount:

Since welfare reform ended entitlement to cash assistance, the U.S. approach to reducing poverty among custodial-mother families has focused on incentivizing mothers’ employment and increasing child support collections. At the same time, an increasingly polarized labor market characterized by job insecurity and instability hinders custodial mothers’ mobility from poverty by providing them with low and unstable earnings and limiting noncustodial fathers’ ability to provide regular child support. Theoretically, increases in child support income are expected to decrease mothers’ work effort. Yet, extant research provides mixed evidence in support of this hypothesis. Further, no prior studies have examined the regularity of child support payments. The researchers will use data from the PSID to provide new knowledge on how child support regularity has changed over the past 20 years and the implications of these changes for custodial mothers’ employment and economic well-being.


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