Espanet Annual Conference 2015 ‘The Lost and the New Worlds of Welfare’

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Presentation title: Child maintenance and poverty reduction in lone parent families: analysis of typical cases in UK, US, NZ and Australia paper written with Professor Meyer, D.R. University of Wisconsin-Madison, US; Dr. Kay Cook, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia; Michael Fletcher, AUT University (Auckland), New Zealand Abstract: To help tackle the poverty that is common in all OECD countries for one-parent families, additional financial support could come from the state through social assistance payments, from non-resident parents through child maintenance payments, or from both. Some countries might view social assistance and child maintenance as substitutes, so that children who receive more from a non-resident parent will receive less from the state. This substitution approach could be attractive to countries trying to limit public costs. The effectiveness in reducing poverty however, would depend upon the interactions between child maintenance and the social security systems. An alternative position treats social assistance and child maintenance as complements, with systems designed to enable parents to combine these sources. This complementarity may be an attractive strategy for governments looking to decrease child poverty. However, we currently know very little about the approaches different countries take, or the advantages of alternative schemes. In this paper we provide a comparative analysis of the potential value of child maintenance payments to the income packages of lone parents in four countries (UK, US, Australia, New Zealand), taking into account the complex interactions between child maintenance and social security systems. The UK has recently moved to a full complement scheme; in contrast, in New Zealand it is full substitution. The US and Australia take intermediate positions. We provide an analysis on how policies in each country affect particular example families, comparing the various approaches. We show that income packages are affected not only by the explicit policies governing the treatment of child maintenance in the main social assistance program, but also by more hidden approaches in ancillary programs. We then summarize data on how these policies are working. The approaches illustrate varying social policy contexts of one-parent families and highlight consequential policy choices.
Period3 Sep 20155 Sep 2015
Event typeConference
LocationOdense, Denmark, United KingdomShow on map