The Annual Public Costs of
-Steven L. Nock, University of Virginia | Christopher J. Einolf, DePaul University School of Public Service
This study, the first of its kind, provides an estimate of the taxpayer costs of father absence. More precisely, it estimates the annual expenditures made by the federal government to support father-absent homes. These federal expenditures include those made on thirteen means-tested antipoverty programs and child support enforcement, and the total expenditures add up to a startling $99.8 billion.
The Federal Government spent at least $99.8 billion providing assistance to father-absent families in 2006. $99.8 billion is the amount the Federal government spent on thirteen means tested benefit programs and on child support enforcement for single mothers. These programs include the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), child support enforcement, food and nutrition programs, housing programs,
Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP). Given the persistence of this household structure, we must now turn our attention to rigorous research designed to uncover the reasons for the varying
types of fatherless families. It is very likely that fatherlessness has different meanings and implications for those of differing social classes. For example, we do not yet understand why some immigrant groups typically arrive in intact families only to see high rates of fatherlessness in subsequent generations. The wide racial, ethnic, and social class differences observed in fatherlessness should be the basis of questions for the next generation of research on this topic.