Three essays on the impacts of child support program on single mothers' material well-being, labor supply, and children's achievements
Heydari Barardehi, Ilyar
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This dissertation examines the importance of Child Support Enforcement program as an anti-poverty policy aiming at protecting and enhancing the well-being of female-headed families and recipient children. Three essays investigate both the immediate and the long-term effects of child support transfer on mother-only families’ economic well-being and their children’s achievements. In the first essay (Chapter 2) titled “Child support receipt and material well-being of single mothers,” I investigate the extent to which receiving a child support transfer, as well as the amount of transfer, affect the recipients’ consumption of market goods and services. I find no evidence of a significant relationship between child support transfer and recipients’ consumption. Chapter 3 of my dissertation, entitled “Child support receipt and single mothers’ labor supply,” tests the possible impact of child support on single mothers’ labor market decision-making. This chapter complements and extends the analysis from the first essay. The economic theory posits that an exogenous increase in material resources should increase consumption of market goods and services. However, individuals could also derive utility from increased consumption of leisure and, if the gain in utility form leisure outweighs the marginal utility of consumption of goods and services, the effect of child support transfer might materialize through reduced supply of labor. I explore the trade-off between consumption of goods and non-labor time by estimating the effect of child support transfer on both the intensive and the extensive margins of labor supply. The estimations reveal that both receiving the child support and the amount received are related to single mothers’ labor decisions regarding the hours of work. The fourth chapter, entitled “Child support receipt and children’s’ achievements” examines the long-lasting impacts of child support transfer on children’s future success and adulthood achievements. By following a cohort of recipients through time, I attempt to document major differences between recipients and non-recipients in terms of their educational attainment, labor market success, and economic well-being. My empirical analysis shows that the receipt of child support transfer enhances the beneficiaries’ chance of completing high school, but has limited effects on other outcomes.