Estimating the Impact of Child Support and Welfare Policies on Fathers’ Involvement

Kelly S. Mikelson, University of Texas at Austin

This paper examines the impact of state-level child support enforcement and welfare polices on fathers’ involvement with their young children controlling for fathers’ individual-level characteristics. Fathers' involvement is operationalized as accessibility, responsibility, and engagement. This paper analyzes two time points in a child’s life to examine the short- and long-run impact of public policies. This paper finds that while the role of policies in shaping fathers’ involvement is muted by their individual characteristics and circumstances, public policies do influence fathers’ involvement with their children. However, policies may be operating in conflicting ways to both increase and decrease fathers’ involvement with their children. For example, policies such as the child support collection rate, positively impacts one type of fathers’ involvement (responsibility) while the same policy may also negatively impacts another type of fathers’ involvement (accessibility).

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Presented in Session 102: Public Policy and Family Forms