School of Economics

2004 Discussion Papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 04/08
August 2004

Child Support and Partnership Dissolution: Evidence from the UK
Ian Walker and Yu Zhu

School of Economics
University of Kent


This paper studies the determinants of partnership dissolution and focuses on the role of child support. We exploit the variation in child support liabilities driven by an important UK policy reform to separately identify the effects of children from the effect of child support liability. We find strong evidence that an increase in the child support liability significantly reduces dissolution risk. Our results suggest that child support criteria that are based on the non-custodial parent's income, compared to criteria based on aggregate incomes of both parents, would imply much smaller separation rates.

JEL Classification: D13, D31, J12, J13, J16

Keywords: partnership dissolution, child support, empty nest effect

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Published in the following journal:

Economic Journal, 116, C93-C109



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