Separation, Child Support and Well-Being in Uruguay

Produced by: 
Universidad de la República - Uruguay
Available from: 
April 2017
Paper author(s): 
Marisa Bucheli
Andrea Vigorito
Topic: 
Education - Health
Fiscal Policy - Public and Welfare Economics
Year: 
2017

There is scarce quantitative evidence on the well-being effects of separation and the specific role of child support payments in Latin American countries, due to the paucity of longitudinal data. This article contributes to fill this gap by analyzing the impact of family breakdown and child support in Uruguay on a wide set of household and child outcomes, based on two waves of a longitudinal study (Estudio Longitudinal del Bienestar en Uruguay), that follows-up children that were first graders at public primary schools in 2004. We restrict our study to households composed by cohabiting couples in the baseline (2004). The effect is estimated using a combined difference in difference- PSM method. Our main findings that show that separation entails a significant per capita household income loss (12%) and increases deprivation in terms of income poverty and access to durable goods, for custodial mothers. However, the income fall is partially mitigated by paternal child support payments, public transfers, changes in living arrangements and behavioral responses among mothers, whose labor earnings increase significantly after separation. Meanwhile, separation seems to worsen child educational outcomes, particularly grade repetition. However, this disadvantage vanishes for those children receiving transfers from non co-resident parents.

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