Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Small Change: The Economics of Child Support by Andrea H. Beller and John W. Graham

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Book Reviews -- Small Change: The Economics of Child Support by Andrea H. Beller and John W. Graham

Article excerpt

Beller and Graham are economists who report on a decade of research concerning the determinants, consequences, and trends of child support awards and receipts in the United States using 1979, 1982, 1984, and 1986 census survey data. The authors examine the socioeconomic and legal context of child support, outline the economic consequences of child support awards and receipts, and then conclude with recommendations for changes in public policy. Four central questions are the focus of the research: Was a child support award obtained? If so, how much money was awarded? Was any money received? If so, how much money was received? The questions are examined across groups of mothers with varying ethnicity and marital status. The intentions for the book were to identify areas of progress and lack of progress in child support, document differentials by race and marital status, and assess whether child support enforcement programs have been effective. These objectives are successfully accomplished in the book.

The research is carefully designed and executed in the empirical science mode of inquiry. The book reports the facts without attempts to make value judgments and thus represents the style of positivist economics. The last chapter on policy recommendations does have a flavor of the critical mode of inquiry. The authors take a more normative stance in regard to children's economic needs as they outline what should be done in regard to policy directives.

The book will be valuable for family scholars in several ways. First, it will be helpful to have for comparison a detailed description of the national child support situation with extensive statistics that can be used by researchers who are examining child support data from one state. …

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