Journal Issue: Welfare to Work Volume 7 Number 1 Spring 1997
Estimating Available Resources
These studies together make it clear that to assess fully the benefits of additional paternity establishment and child support enforcement efforts, it is essential to determine the size of the untapped parental resources. The next section of this article describes an effort to estimate the resources available to absent fathers by developing profiles of men who do not reside with their children, and then using longitudinal data to document their earnings over the first 18 years of the child's life. Based on those earnings trajectories, one can estimate the child support payments such fathers would be expected to make.
It should be noted that this article focuses on child support obligations and the potential pool of untapped financial resources held by fathers and does not consider several related issues. The research does not address the issue of compliance, although fathers may refuse to comply with child support orders, and locating the father and ensuring compliance may be prohibitively expensive. Second, the study considers only the potential financial contributions of fathers, although men may of course make other contributions to the life of their children, through in-kind transfers or through emotional or psychological support. These avenues are not explored in this study.