Date of this Version
Journal of Labor Economics, 2020, vol. 38, no. 2, pp 611-652 & suppl.
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.
Supplemental appendices attached below.