Deadbeat Mums

In the UK, and I expect other countries, we hear a constant narrative about ‘Deadbeat Dads’. David Cameron cruelly used the phrase on – of all days – Father’s Day, two or three years ago. It’s a phrase used only a few days ago by the odious Janet Street-Porter, in her column in the Daily Mail. This was a few days before Xmas Day, another time of particular anguish for fathers unable to see their children. In response we posted a piece, ‘Janet Street-Porter: the most evil woman in Britain?’

I can’t recall ever having heard the term ‘Deadbeat Mums’, so I was very interested in a piece just sent in by M (does the man never sleep?) He pointed us to a recently-published report relating to the United States 2011 Census, and published recently. It’s titled, ‘Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support’:

131226 US Census (2011) report

A few highlights:

14.4 million parents live with 23.4 million children under 21, the other parent living elsewhere.

81.7% of custodial parents are mothers, 18.3% fathers.

53.4% of custodial mothers and 28.8% of custodial fathers had legal or informal child support agreements.

30.7% of custodial parents who were due child support received full payments, 43.4% partial payments, 25.9% no payments.

We plan to do a detailed analysis of the report at some point, but M points to some intriguing data near the top of Table 2 (p.7). It outlines the extent to which non-resident fathers and mothers meet (or fail to meet) their obligations with respect to paying child support:

Custodial mothers

Average payment due: $6,115

Average payment received: $3,862 (63.2%)

43.6% received all due payments

25.1% received no payments

Custodial fathers

Average payment due: $5,527

Average payment received: $3,015 (54.6%)

41.4% received all due payments

32% received no payments

So there you have it. Compared with non-resident fathers, non-resident mothers are required to pay less, pay a lower proportion of what they’re required to pay, are less likely to pay all they’re required to pay, and are markedly more likely to pay nothing towards the support of their children. If we accept that these are some of the measures of being a ‘deadbeat parent’ – as tends to be the case in the UK, at least – then the conclusion is clear. In the United States, a majority of deadbeat non-resident parents are mothers. Is it time for Americans to start using the term ‘Deadbeat Moms’?

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