The Role of Child Support and Earnings in Texas Welfare and Poverty Dynamics

Researcher(s):Christopher T. King and Daniel Schroeder
Date Published:
September 2003
Publisher(s):
Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, The University of Texas at Austin

Abstract: Most welfare reform research to date has focused on only one of the parents involved in the welfare system, the custodial parent (CP), typically the mother who is or has been on welfare. The non-custodial parent (NCP), typically the father of the dependents in question, has received both inadequate attention from policymakers and researchers and insufficient assistance from the existing array of programs. Thus, the available research offers ambiguous results on the role of NCP earnings and child support in promoting exits from welfare and poverty and reducing welfare recidivism. The studies focused mainly on pre-reform periods, leaving considerable room for further research. In the current paper, we report on additional research on the role of child support and both custodial and non-custodial parent earnings in Texas welfare and poverty dynamics in the post-reform era.

The main conclusions from our analysis of the role of child support and earnings in welfare and poverty dynamics in Texas, can be viewed as representing a best-case scenario. Our major conclusions stress that the receipt of child support plays a strong and significant role in increasing the probability of exit from and reducing the probability of recidivism to welfare. Finally since workforce participation and child support play such strong positive roles in welfare and poverty dynamics, policymakers may well want to prioritize services to NCPs coupled with effective child support enforcement and payment mechanisms as an effective anti-poverty strategy.

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