This symposium brings together three novel papers that explore different aspects of child support policy. All the papers include the US and several other countries: 6 other high-income countries in the first paper (Child Support Receipt...), 5 Latin American countries in the second paper (Child Support in Extended-family Households...), and 12 mostly European countries in the third (Child Support, Shared Care and Inequality...). Asking similar research questions in these varied contexts broaden our understanding of the economic well-being of children in separated families around the globe.
The first paper explores whether factors associated with child support receipt are similar across countries and whether any country is doing better in child support outcomes once these characteristics are controlled. The analysis points to Finland, and so the paper examines the types of policies that Finland has that other countries may want to consider.
The second paper explores whether nonresident fathers are less likely to pay support if the single mother and children are living with kin (extended families). As such, the paper is focused on understanding the extent to which a father's willingness to pay results in variation in economic well-being for his children. The authors find that in the two countries with the fewest extended families (Chile and the US), those living with kin are less likely to receive support, once other factors are controlled. This raises interesting issues about the way that policy, norms, and individual behavior come together in economic well-being.
Finally, the third paper takes a step back from individual data and explore the details of policy in several countries. The authors examine how much child support is expected when children live approximately equal time each of their separated parents and is particularly interested in ex-partners who have unequal financial resources. The paper finds a wide variety of approaches to expectations, and it draws implications for policy in terms of inequality in general and gender equality.
The symposium is capped by two senior discussants. One has expertise in child support research and will discuss the research issues raised by these papers a research agenda going forward. The other is a family lawyer who has been a high-level child support program administrator and is now consulting with policymakers around the world. She will address the policy issues raised by the three papers and a policy agenda going forward. The audience not only learns about the ways several countries structure family policy and the effects of these different policies for economically vulnerable families, but also is challenged to consider changes to US policy.