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Nonresident Parents' Characteristics and Child Support

Pamela J. Smock and Wendy D. Manning
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 59, No. 4 (Nov., 1997), pp. 798-808
DOI: 10.2307/353783
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353783
Page Count: 11
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Nonresident Parents' Characteristics and Child Support
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Abstract

Family patterns have changed dramatically. Now nearly a majority of children in the United States are likely to spend at least part of their childhood living apart from their biological father. Social science research has indicated that father involvement—particularly economic flows to children—is crucial to children's well-being. Furthermore, policymakers are focused on child support reform as the foundation for improving outcomes for children. Yet most research on the determinants of child support relies solely on mothers' characteristics. We draw on new, matched, ex-couple data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the importance of having information about both parents. Our findings indicate that the characteristics of nonresident parents are central to understanding levels of child support and underscore the need for data collection that includes obtaining information from both resident and nonresident parents.

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