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The Effect of Child Support on Selection into Marriage and Fertility

Daniel I. Tannenbaum

Journal of Labor Economics, 2020, vol. 38, issue 2, 611 - 652

Abstract: This paper studies the expansion of US child support policies from 1977 to 1992 and its consequences for marriage and fertility decisions. I develop a model showing that child support enforces ex ante commitment from men to provide financial support in the event of a child, which (1) increases premarital sex among couples unlikely to marry and (2) reduces the abortion rate by reducing the cost of child-rearing to single moms. Using variation in the rollout relative to the timing of nonmarital pregnancy, I find that child support policies reduced the likelihood of marriage and reduced the abortion rate.

Date: 2020
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