When parents engage in childbearing with more than one partner or multi-partnered fertility, this gives rise to a complex family system with strong implications for transfers to children. This study therefore seeks to measure the effect of multi-partnered fertility on formal and informal child support transfers, specifically to non-marital children. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), the study goes beyond previous works by isolating causal effects of male and female multi-partnered fertility as well as highlighting sample selection bias induced by mothers non-randomly selecting into formal and informal child support arrangements. I find that in general, the probability of receiving formal and/or informal child support contributions decline as the number of children a parent has with more than one partner rises. However, the study only confirms a causal adverse relationship for multi-partnered fathers. Using the endogenous switching regression to correct for sample selection bias, the model illustrates that mothers with formal child support agreements receive higher transfers than other mothers would have, had they acquired formal child support orders. Hence, mothers select the type of child support arrangement for which they comparative advantage. These findings underscore the need to revisit child support policies for complex families. (author abstract)
Child support transfers under family complexity
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