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Poverty, Child Maintenance and Interactions with Social Assistance Schemes


ERSC seminar

Seminars outline

This two day international seminar delivered in London, will consider the potential contribution of private child maintenance/child support payments to poverty reduction in separated families. Uniquely, the complex interactions between child maintenance systems and social assistance schemes will be explored across a range of countries. These interactions can reduce the value of payments in different ways across countries but are easily overlooked in national and comparative analyses making it difficult to rely on some comparisons.

Three broad themes will be covered:

  • Child maintenance systems and interactions with social assistance schemes – the principles and practice
  • Poverty among lone parent families as receivers of child maintenance
  • Poverty among non-resident parents as payers of child maintenance

The seminars will also facilitate discussion on the implications for policy and practice as well as identify new areas of comparative research inquiry. They will be relevant to a broad range of policy makers, academics, researchers and policy groups with an interest in child maintenance (child support), social security and poverty in separated families.

Dates: July 2nd and 3rd 2015

Venue: The Nuffield Foundation , 28 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3JS

Day 1.  (2nd July 2015) Child Maintenance and Interactions

ESRC seminar audience

This seminar will consider whether there is a potential for child maintenance to provide surplus value to the incomes of receiving parents or whether payments are partially or wholly subsumed within social assistance entitlements. Evidence from across a range of countries is provided with discussion focusing on guaranteed schemes and on the ‘pass through’ or ‘claw back’ of child maintenance monies from the state to the receiver. It will also consider how good the comparative evidence is at capturing this interaction with social assistance entitlements. The mix of countries presented will provide a unique set of comparisons across countries that operate quite different social security systems.


  • Professor Daniel, R. Meyer - University of Wisconsin-Madison: Child maintenance and poverty reduction in lone parent families: comparative analysis of typical cases in UK, US, NZ and Australia.

  • Dr Steven Golightly - Director Child Support Services, Department County of Los Angeles. Programmatic and economic implications of the present child support pass through laws in the United States

  • Barbora Brlayova - CNAF (Caisse nationale des allocations familiales): French public policy against unpaid child support: A new child support guarantee scheme'.
  • Carole Bonnet - INED Paris (French National Institute for Demographic Studies): Do women really bear the cost of divorce? The role of child custody, public and private transfers in France.

  • Dr Hayley Fisher - University of Sydney: Child support payments and the labour market participation of lone mothers in Australia.

  • Professor Heikki Hiilamo - University of Helsinki: Does child support really reduce poverty? Measurement of interplay between child support and social assistance in eight countries


Day 2.  (3rd July 2015) Different Perspectives on Child Maintenance and Poverty

ESRC seminar lady speaker


  • Amy Skipp - ASK Research: ‘Kid’s Aren’t Free’  Lone Parent Poverty and Child Maintenance in the UK

  • Dr Kay Cook - RMIT Melbourne: The contribution that child support makes to reducing child poverty in Australia.

  • Associate Professor Lisa Young - Murdoch University, Western Australia. Parental poverty and ‘fairness’ in the operation of the Australian child support system.

  • Dr Antonia Keung and Dr Christine Skinner - University of York UK: Non-resident father poverty: An Analysis of the Family Resources Survey in the UK.

  • Dr Christine Davies - Royal Holloway University of London and Dr Christine Skinner - University of York UK. Assessing capacity to pay child maintenance: the UK formula, fathers and poverty


ESRC: Economic and Social Research Council

Nuffield Foundation