Single Moms and Deadbeat Dads: The Role of Earnings, Marriage Market Conditions, and Preference Heterogeneity

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Why do some men father children outside of marriage without providing support? Why do some women have children outside of marriage when they receive little support from fathers? Why is this behavior more common among blacks than whites? We estimate a dynamic equilibrium model of marriage, employment, fertility, and child support decisions. We consider the extent to which low earnings, marriage market conditions, and preference heterogeneity explain non-marital childbearing, deadbeat fatherhood, and racial differences in these outcomes. We find the black-white earnings gap and preference heterogeneity explain a substantial portion of racial differences, while marriage market conditions are less important.

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