Abstract

We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Child data to address three questions. First, does the receipt of child support have beneficial effects for children with absent fathers apart from increasing income? Second, do the effects of child support differ when child-support awards and payments are made cooperatively as opposed to being court ordered? Third, are any positive effects of child support solely a product of unmeasured differences among fathers and families? Controlling for the socioeconomic characteristics of the child and family, we find some evidence that receipt of child support has a positive impact on children’s cognitive test scores over and above its contribution to total income. However, the effects vary by test, by race, and by reason for Father’s absence. Our results also indicate that the distinction between cooperative and noncooperative awards is important. Finally, our instrumental variables estimates show that the effects of child support persist after we control for unobserved characteristics of fathers and families.

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