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Racial and Ethnic Disproportionality and Disparity in Child Support: A Scoping Review

Previous research suggests that child support programs may have disparate effects for racial and ethnic minority noncustodial parents (NCPs) compared to other, more advantaged, NCPs because the former are overrepresented in the child support system and overrepresented among those who are behind in their child support payments, accrue child support arrears, and are at risk of experiencing enforcement actions. This study provides a scoping review that summarizes the extent and range of studies centering on whether and how NCPs’ experiences with child support services differ by their race and ethnicity.

We include peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, or government documents, both qualitative and quantitative, published in English in the last decade between 2013 and 2022, which resulted in 152 articles focused on NCPs’ experiences in the U.S. child support system. In our review, we analyze the whole child support system as well as various processes within child support. We also pay attention to changes in child support policy made in 2016 to see if this change stimulates more interest in and has impact for racial and ethnic disparities.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Inequality & Mobility, Racial/Ethnic Inequality