This symposium brings together four novel papers that explore different aspects of these issues. The stage is set by “Is the Gender Gap Universal? Economic Consequences of Divorce and Separation for Women in Colombia Compared to 6 OECD Countries,” which documents the extent to which women are economically disadvantaged after family separation. Compared to prior work, this paper expands the countries studied and is more consistent with contemporary families by contrasting the effects of divorce and cohabitation dissolution. Finally, it introduces the family policies in place in the countries that have the smallest gaps.
With this background, the symposium turns to new and deeper examinations of child support policies across several countries. In “Child Support Policy Rhetoric: A Comparison of Logics in Four Countries”, the authors focus not only on what child support policies of Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US are, but also on how countries justify these policies. Because the way problems/policies are framed can lead to different policy solutions, alternative framings are important, and these are easiest to see in a cross-country analysis. The paper also makes an important contribution by examining whether the policy rhetoric matches the actual details of these policies.
The last two papers examine the results of child support policy. “Who Received Child Support in Latin America? A Comparative Analysis of Six Countries” is a pioneering look at the extent to which single mothers receive child support in Colombia, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, and characteristics associated with its receipt. The authors find substantial cross-country differences, and highlight some of the features of policy in the countries that are more successful.
Finally, in “Does Paying Child Support Impoverish Fathers in the US, Finland, and the UK?” the authors consider whether nonresident fathers are being asked to pay so much support that they fall into poverty. This novel paper finds that fathers pay substantially more in the US than the other countries, and as a result paying support is pushing more fathers into poverty in the US. The paper includes a discussion of the child support policy features that may be related to these findings.
The symposium is capped by two discussants who bring unique and complementary perspectives. One discussant is an expert on policies addressing family policy and its effects, particularly effects on child poverty, and the other is an expert on child support policy and its effects on the lived experiences of vulnerable families. Because the papers include a range of countries, the audience not only learns about a variety of policies focused on vulnerable families and their effects, but also is challenged to consider changes to US policy.