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Title:Essays on Welfare Reform and Child Support Enforcement: Evidence From State Administrative Data
Author(s):Chang, Yunhee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Beller, Andrea H.
Department / Program:Agricultural and Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agricultural and Consumer Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Public and Social Welfare
Abstract:Since 1996 welfare reform proclaimed a substantial cutback in welfare benefits, state-initiated child support enforcement has gained increasing attention as a policy alternative for the poor single-parent households. This dissertation assesses the effect of child support enforcement on low-income families under the 1996 reform. Administrative data from the state of Illinois used for this research provide a unique and rich set of information on 50,129 children from welfare recipient households who have support cases. This dissertation consists of three essays. The first essay investigates the effect of the reform on the duration of case resolution. In order to deal with observed and unobserved heterogeneity in the caseload, the multivariate hazard models with time-varying covariates and with individual-specific frailty are estimated. The findings suggest that reform accelerated paternity establishment for non-marital children but slowed down the process of obtaining support orders for open child support cases, indicating the shifted emphasis of the state child support policies toward non-marital children who need legal paternity. The second essay presents a game-theoretic model explaining bargaining decisions between the parents under the cooperation requirement and sanctioning provisions of reform. This essay shows how the current policy may discourage some single mothers on welfare from cooperating with the enforcement agency, given the fathers' altruistic preferences. Empirical evidence supports the model indicating that the single mothers who are sanctioned have higher gains from informal support arrangement with the father than from establishing formal support. The third essay addresses the problem of child support when the noncustodial parent (NCP) lives out of state. This study estimates how physical distance between the NCP and the child affects child support outcomes, whether crossing state-lines affects enforcement adversely, and whether the uniform legislation improved the likelihood of success in enforcement and sped up interstate enforcement. A consistent and negative relationship between distance and support outcomes is found. State borders between the NCP and the child also make enforcement slower and less fruitful. Implementation of uniform legislation in Illinois or in the responding states resulted in no significant improvement in interstate enforcement. The reasons of this result are speculated.
Issue Date:2003
Description:189 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3131265
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2003

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