Discrepancies in Child Support Paid and Owed Among Noncustodial Parents: Evidence from Survey and State Administrative Data
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper compares the self-reported amounts of child support paid and orders of over 10,000 noncustodial parents with administrative records. We use new data from the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration program, a federally-funded eight-state intervention for people behind in their child support payments and with limited employment, collected between October 2013 and September 2016. Participants in the baseline survey were asked to self-report the amount of child support they owed in the last month and the amount they paid in the last month. We compare the distribution of survey and administrative reports, discrepancies, and describe sample characteristics. We then use OLS regression to estimate the relationship between key characteristics (including family structure, income, age, education, race, and criminal history) and the size of the discrepancy. We explore the extent to which discrepancies between survey reports and administrative records are associated with the number of cases for which the noncustodial parent owes support (related to multiple partner fertility). We also evaluate hypotheses related to informal child support payments accounting for apparent over reporting of formal child support in surveys, relative to administrative data.