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Lois Verbrugge, Disability Experience & Measurement

Does paying child support reduce men's subsequent marriage and fertility?

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Anderson, Kermyt G. 2011. "Does paying child support reduce men's subsequent marriage and fertility?" Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(2): 90-96.

Due to tradeoffs between mating and parental effort, men who pay child support to children from previous unions should be less likely to have subsequent children or to remarry than men who do not pay child support. I evaluate this prediction using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a nationally representative sample of American households. As predicted, child support payment is associated with lower probability of subsequent birth. However, the prediction was not met for marriage: men who paid child support were more, rather than less, likely to remarry. One interpretation of this result is that child support payment is an honest signal of men's willingness to commit to parental investment: by continuing to pay child support, men signal to prospective mates that they are good investors. Child support may thus function to some extent as mating effort, by attracting subsequent long-term mates. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

DOI:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.08.008 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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