Does Paying Child Support Impoverish Fathers in the United States, Finland, and the United Kingdom?

Mia Hakovirta, Daniel, R. Meyer, Christine Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increased frequency of divorce, separation, and nonmarital childbearing over the past several decades has contributed to the rise of parents not living with their children in the same household. These nonresident parents are typically fathers who share the economic responsibility for their children across households by paying child support. This study uses Luxemburg Income Studies (LIS) datasets from the year 2013 to study whether paying child support
impoverishes fathers in Finland, the UK, and the U.S. In all countries, child support payers are somewhat economically disadvantaged. In Finland and the U.S., the largest group of child support payers comprises single males who do not live with children and do not have a new partner; but in the UK, the largest group is fathers with a partner but no children. In the U.S., the level of child support paid is higher than in Finland and the UK. For the poverty effects, results
show that very few child support payers fall into poverty because of the amount of child support they pay, but the increase in poverty rates due to paying support is clearly higher in the U.S. than in the other countries. More single
mothers are drawn out of poverty by the receipt of child support than there are fathers who are pushed into poverty by child support payments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104485
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date3 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • child support; nonresident fathers; single mothers; comparative study; poverty

Cite this