Child Support Reforms in PRWORA

Brief

Child Support Reforms in PRWORA

Initial Impacts
February 1, 2002

Abstract

Child support reforms were an integral part of the 1996 welfare reform law. By strengthening child support enforcement, Congress intended to increase child support collections and thus improve the self-sufficiency of low-income families. This paper assesses whether the child support reforms enacted in 1996 improved child support outcomes during the initial years after enacting welfare reform. It uses a difference-in-difference-in-difference apprach with data from the 1997 and 1999 National Survey of America's Families. We find that some of the key child support reforms, notably new hire directories and improved paternity establishment procedures, have contributed to gains in child support outcomes among low- and middle-income children with a never-married mother, a group that has received little child support in the past.

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