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Journal Issue: Welfare to Work Volume 7 Number 1 Spring 1997

The Partners of Welfare Mothers: Potential Earnings and Child Support
Michael J. Brien Robert J. Willis


Public interest in promoting the self-sufficiency of families that depend on welfare concerns the ability of fathers, as well as mothers, to support their children through employment. Many welfare recipients are never-married women, and their children seldom receive child support payments. This article estimates the financial resources that go untapped when child support is not collected from the men who father children who later receive AFDC benefits. While these men may earn little at the time the child is born, their incomes are likely to escalate over time. The child support payments they would make over the child's first 18 years equal almost half of the welfare benefit received by the mother and child. Based on these probable long-term earnings, the authors urge policymakers to invest in efforts to establish paternity and collect child support.