Unwed Fathers Ability to Pay Child Support Evidence from the

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					       Unwed Fathers’ Ability to Pay Child Support:
Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study




                      Marilyn Sinkewicz
                     Columbia University
                       Irwin Garfinkel
                     Columbia University

                         July 1, 2004
                                           Funders
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study is funded through grants from
   the following government agencies:
     5R01-HD-35301 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
     5P30-HD-32030 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development through the
     Office of Population Research, Princeton University, U. S. Department of Health and Human
     Services (ACF and ASPE)


Funding is also provided by the following foundations:
    California HealthCare Foundation, The Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at
    the University of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Fund, Ford Foundation, Foundation for Child
    Development, Fund for New Jersey, William T. Grant Foundation, Healthcare Foundation of New
    Jersey, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Hogg Foundation, Christian A. Johnson Endeavor
    Foundation, Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, Leon Lowenstein Foundation, John D. and
    Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott
    Foundation, National Science Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Public Policy
    Institute of California, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, St. David's Hospital Foundation, St.
    Vincent Hospital and Health Services.
New estimates of nonresident unwed
fathers’ capacity to pay child support

                       Motivation

• Child support enforcement affects large proportion of
  population
• Enforcement has been strengthened, especially for poor and
  unwed fathers
• Data for estimating unwed father’s income has been very
  poor
• Fragile Families data addresses previous weaknesses
  Weaknesses of Previous Data
• Missing Dads—40% in NSFH, SIPP, lower
  in longitudinal, but higher for unweds
• Requires Starting with Moms & Kids and
  Assuming Assortative Mating,
• One Dad for Each Mom & No other
  obligations
• Unwed dads like all unwed men
Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study

Sample
mother nonmarital @ birth…...…………………. 3,710
mother nonresident @ 1 year…………………….. 1,805
not interviewed at 1 yr & nonresident @ birth.… 2,024
child not adopted……………………………….…. 2,011
child not deceased……………………………….… 1,993
father eligible
(not deceased, negative DNA, unknown, not told, denies paternity)... 1,797

father reports earnings…………………………..... 853
Estimate fathers’ ability to pay

1. Income (personal earnings)

2. Multiple Partner Fertility
    Number of children with current mother
       and prior mothers
Dependent Variable:
Fathers’ Reports of Annual Earnings at 1 Year

                           (1)       (2)        (3)
                       Assortative Mother’s Previously
                        Mating Reports of Unobserved
                                   Fathers Characteristics
Race                        *         *          *
Age                         *         *          *
Education                   *         *          *
City                                  *          *
Incarceration                                    *
Mental/Physical Health                           *
Drugs/Alcohol                                    *
  MISSING DATA PROBLEM
             EVER INCARCERATED
  ESTIMATION SAMPLE   FULL SAMPLE COEFFICIENT
YES              35         38        -$2548
NO               56         44
MISSING          9          18        -$ 601

          CURRENTLY INCARCERATED
ESTIMATION SAMPLE     FULL SAMPLE COEFFICIENT
YES               5          8        -$5885
NO               84         67
MISSING          11         25        +$ 847
Wisconsin Child Support Guidelines

 Percentage of Annual Earnings

 1 child                   17%
 2 children                25%
 3 children                29%
 4 children                31%
 5+ children               34%
Simulation Earnings Estimation Model        Child Support
                                            Obligation

1          Assortative Mating Assumptions   Current


2          Actual Demographics              Current


3          Ineligible Fathers set to zero   Current


4          Previously Unobserved            Current
           Characteristics

5          Previously Unobserved            First Prior, then Current
           Characteristics

6          Previously Unobserved            Prior plus Current & then
           Characteristics                  Split Equally
  Annual Child Support Payment per Nonresident Father
                                                                                     PRIOR
5500                                                                                 CHILDREN
5000                                                                                 MEAN=1.1
                                                                                     CURRENT
4500                                                                                 CHILDREN
4000                                                                                 MEAN=1.4
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
 500
   0
            SIM 1         SIM 2     SIM 3        SIM 4        SIM 5         SIM 6
Earnings   $20,683       $20,507   $18,459      $17,929      $17,929       $17,929
           Assortative    Actual   Ineligible   Prev Unobs   Prior, then    Current
           Mating                                            Current        plus prior
Summary
1. Assortative mating assumption ok
2. Identifying ineligible fathers reduces
   ability to pay by 11%
3. Previously unmeasured capabilities of
   dads reduces ability to pay by only 3%
4. Multiple partner fertility reduces ability to
   pay by 14% to 29%
5. All together—25% to 38% lower

				
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