Child support and father-child contact: testing reciprocal pathways

Demography. 2007 Feb;44(1):93-112. doi: 10.1353/dem.2007.0008.


I use three waves of panel data to examine the relationship between child support payments and fathers' contact with their nonmarital children. I disaggregate support into fathers' formal and informal payments and incorporate cross-lagged effects models to identify the direction of causality between payments and contact. After including the behavior from the prior wave (lagged term) and a rich set of family characteristics, I find a marginally significant effect of paying formally at Time 1 on the likelihood of contact at Time 2 but no effect of contact at Time 1 on formal payments at Time 2. In the first examination of the relationship between informal support and father-child contact, I find a strong, positive reciprocal relationship between the likelihood and frequency of father-child contact and the likelihood and amount of informal support, with slightly stronger and more consistent effects of contact on payments than of payments on contact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Family Characteristics
  • Family Relations
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Marital Status*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Time
  • United States