Friday, January 17, 2020: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Independence BR G, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: International Social Work & Global Issues (ISW&GI)
Daniel Meyer, PhD, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Irwin Garfinkel, PhD, Columbia University and Thomas Meysen, PhD, SOCLES International Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
Across a range of countries, the number of children in single-parent families is growing. In most of these countries, women and children are economically disadvantaged when their families separate. Countries have designed child support systems in part to respond to these economic difficulties. Yet even though countries are facing similar family dynamics and economic vulnerabilities, we know relatively little about whether their child support policies are similar, and we know even less about the effects of various policies. This symposium brings together three novel papers that explore different aspects of these issues. The first paper examines the extent to which separated parents actually use the government's child support services or make their own arrangements. In Parents or Government: Who Makes Decisions about Child Support Arrangements in Colombia, the United States and the United Kingdom? the authors innovatively use three country-specific data sources to explore whether parents report that they made decisions about arrangements for their children post-separation (informal arrangements) or had their arrangements set in court or by an agency. They find significant cross-country differences in the use of informal arrangements and the characteristics of those using the informal system. One of the contributions of the paper is the author's careful exploration of similarities and differences across three rather different country contexts. A second paper, What Do We Expect in Shared Custody Child Support Cases: Contrasting Responses in 12 Countries and 5 US States expands the range of countries considered and focuses on child support expectations in a particular kind of case that is increasing worldwide, when children live roughly equal amounts of time with each parent. In addition to documenting differential expectations across countries, the authors highlight that traditional welfare state typologies are quite limited in predicting policy responses in the child support area, and suggest important ideas for moving comparative studies of family policy forward. The third paper, What Are the Effects of the Korean Child Support Reform? turns to the effects of policy. Korea initiated a major child support reform about ten years ago. Using data from a series of surveys of single parents, and varied statistical methods, the authors show a substantial and significant increase in the number of mothers receiving child support. They draw important implications not only for Korea, but for all countries considering reforms. The symposium is capped by two senior discussants with complementary expertise. One (confirmed) brings substantial history in proposing, observing, and evaluating child support reforms in the US, who has also been invited to consult with governments around the world. The second (invited) is the Managing Director of an international center in Germany that coordinates study of family policy around the world. In addition to commenting on the papers, the discussants highlight similar issues faced by different countries in this particular policy areas. The audience not only learns about a variety of child support policies focused on vulnerable families and their effects, but also is challenged to consider changes to US policy.
* noted as presenting author
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