Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)
Methods: This study employs two methods: life table and discrete-time multivariate hazard models. We use a measure of the typical birthing costs charged for Medicaid births by county and month, as a proxy for exogenous economic burdens on non-custodial fathers. Our base sample is 12,249 fathers from the state administrative records for paternities established in Wisconsin between October of 1997 and March of 2005. All cases meet the following selection criteria: the mother is the custodial parent and the child is the first born to the father. We have a maximum observation period of 31 quarters following the fathers' assumption of birthing costs.
Results: We find that 50 percent of fathers withdraw, at least temporarily, from the labor market within 6 quarters after the fathers' assumption of birthing costs. In the multivariate hazard analysis, we find that birthing costs appear to be positively associated with fathers' withdrawal from the labor market.
Conclusions and Implications: The study shows that severe economic burdens actively discourage non-custodial fathers from working. Beyond current child support enforcement such as income withholding, alternatives are needed in order to encourage non-custodial fathers to work.