In countries across the income spectrum, single-mother families are prevalent and often economically vulnerable, but in many states, non-resident parents are unable—and sometimes unwilling—to pay their share of support. A Rutgers-led global study of child support policies suggests that publicly guaranteed child support programs may be more effective than placing the burden of payment on low-income non-resident parents.
The results were recently summarized Working note of the World Bank For policy makers and development practitioners.
“In much of Europe, the state supports single mothers when fathers cannot pay child support; children are considered a public good,” said Laura Cuesta, assistant professor at Rutgers School of Social Work and lead author of the note. “That’s not the way it works in the United States, which contributes to social problems like poverty and material hardship. If you’re a single mother in the United States and the father of your children can’t pay child support, you’re kind of on your own.”
Based on the results of recent studies published in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences and the Journal of International and Comparative Social PolicyCuesta and collaborators compared child support policies in 67 low-, middle- and high-income countries. With very few exceptions, single-mom families are disproportionately poor compared to other types of families, but in many of the states examined, less than a third of single mothers receive child support from non-resident parents.
How states handle a low rate for receiving child support varies widely. In the United States, non-resident parents are expected to pay child support regardless of their economic circumstances, while many European countries deal with non-payment of child support by providing general guarantees.
Researchers have found that child support policies in many middle- and low-income countries are unique compared to high-income countries. For example, many countries recognize more than one legal system, which can cause distortions in policy implementation. In rural Africa, the most common form of divorce is simply refusal to marry, and women have no right to support children. And in Pakistan, there are different child support rules for boys and girls, a gender distinction that does not exist in high-income countries.
Cuesta said that as the number of single-mother families around the world increases due to social and economic changes, poverty reduction and child support policies will be more intertwined.
Mia Hakovirta et al., Child support policy across high-income countries: Similar problems, different approaches, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1177 / 00027162221119959
Laura Cuesta et al., Child Support Policy in Middle- and Low-Income Countries: Current Approaches and Policy Dilemmas, Available here. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy (2023). DOI: 10.1017/ics.2023.4
the quote: Government Guaranteed Child Support Programs May Help Reduce Poverty Worldwide (2023, June 8) Retrieved June 8, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-06-child-poverty-worldwide. html
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