Beauchamp, Andrew, Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, Shannon Seitz, and Meghan Skira. “Deadbeat Dads”. Boston College Working Papers in Economics 859, 2014.
Why do some men father children outside of marriage but not provide support? Why are some single women willing to have children outside of marriage when they receive little or no support from unmarried fathers? Why is this behavior especially common among blacks? To shed light on these questions, we develop and estimate a dynamic equilibrium model of marriage, employment, fertility, and child support. We consider the extent to which low earnings and a shortage of single men relative to single women among blacks can explain the prevalence of deadbeat dads and non-marital childbearing. We estimate the model by indirect inference using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. We simulate three distinct counterfactual policy environments: perfect child support enforcement, eliminating the black-white earnings gap, and equalizing black-white population supplies (and therefore gender ratios). We nd perfect enforcement reduces non-marital childbearing dramatically, particularly among blacks; over time it translates into many fewer couples living with children from past relationships, and therefore less deadbeat fatherhood. Eliminating the black-white earnings gap reduces the marriage rate dierence between blacks and whites by 29 to 43 percent; black child poverty rates fall by nearly 40 percent. Finally equalizing gender ratios has little effect on racial differences in marriage and fertility.