Child Support and Father-Child Contact: Leveraging Panel Data to Establish a Causal Path

Lenna Nepomnyaschy, Columbia University

Three waves of panel data are used to examine the relationship between child support payments and fathers’ contact with their nonmarital children. Cross-lagged effects models are incorporated to identify the direction of causality between these two behaviors. Controlling for the lagged term and a rich set of individual characteristics eliminates the relationship between paying formal support and whether fathers see their children, although a strong reciprocal relationship remains between paying any support (formal or informal) and contact. For the subgroup of fathers who consistently see their children, paying any support leads to more frequent contact, but the reciprocal relationship does not exist.

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Presented in Session 107: Child Support