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Author Topic: Is Child Support for Tobacco and Alcohol?  (Read 1171 times)


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Is Child Support for Tobacco and Alcohol?
« on: Sep 06, 2004, 07:46:41 AM »
Next time someone says that child support payments need to be more aggressively enforced, keep in mind what it is that is being enforced. Child support is not based upon the needs of children. No amount of the money is even required to be spent for children's needs. What it is based upon is expenditures for tobacco and alcohol. Somoeone please explain how those items benefit children!

The following excerpts are taken from the website of former Atlanta Federal Reserve Economist, Mark Rogers (http://www.guidelineeconomics.com):

Current Income Shares Definition of Child Costs:

In the mid-1990s, Policy Studies, Inc. (PSI) asked David Betson of the University of Notre Dame to revise the Income Shares methodology. He also used an income equivalence approach, borrowing a technique from Erwin Rothbarth. The Rothbarth methodology compares changes in levels of household spending on purely adult goods to determine child costs. The idea is that looking at pure adult goods reduces the problem of shifts between adult and shared goods after having a child or an additional child. For measuring child costs, Betson specifically uses a particular bundle of adult goods to measure a household's level of well being-this bundle being adult clothing, alcohol, and tobacco. In other words, he simply replaced the food-only indirect measure with spending in three adult-only areas. Because the cost tables are based on a Betson version of Rothbarth's earlier research, they are sometimes referred to as Betson-Rothbarth tables.

For intact families — ones with an additional child and ones with no additional child — the difference in expenditures between the two families is the child cost when both families consume equal dollar levels of adult clothing, alcohol and tobacco. Child costs are defined by comparing changes in consumption of adult clothing, alcohol, and tobacco.

This definition is dependent on the assumption that having children does not change adult preferences for alcohol, tobacco, and adult clothing. However, common sense tells us that after having children, there is social pressure to reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption. This leads to overestimating child costs, similar to the problem with the Espenshade-Engel definition

Underlying Assumptions of Income Shares Child Support Guidelines:

The household is intact.

The custodial parent cares for the children 100 percent of the time and the non-custodial parent has no parenting time or costs.

There is additional income when a child is added to the family: additional income to bring the standard of living back to its previous level.

Tax benefits attributable to the children are not cost offsets; are not negative costs.

For Betson-Rothbarth based Income Shares guidelines, the best method of estimating child costs is to compare household consumption levels of alcohol, tobacco, and adult clothing before and after having an additional child.


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