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Child Support and Alimony: 1989

Written by:
Report Number P60-173


The number of women living with children whose father was absent from the home was 9,955,000 as of spring 1990, an increase of 39 percent in little more than a decade.1 Approximately 16 million children with absent fathers lived in these households. At present, 26 percent of all children are born to unmarried mothers.2 There is much concern about the low incomes and accompanying high poverty rate of these mothers, and the impact upon their children.

This report presents information on receipt of support payments by women following divorce or separation and receipt of child support payments for children of never-married women. It includes information on: 1) the award and actual receipt of child support payments by women for the benefit of their children, 2) alimony receipt for their own support, and 3) the receipt and type of property settlement for ever-divorced women. The questions were not asked of men with children from an absent mother as the survey sample size is insufficient to provide reliable statistics for this universe.

The data presented in this report were derived from supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Estimates for 1990 are based on women 15 years old and over. Estimates for 1986 and earlier years are based on women 18 years and over. Two sets of 1988 estimates are included in this report: one based on women 18 years and over that is consistent with earlier estimates, and another (1988r) based on women 14 years and over to facilitate 1988 through 1990 comparisons.

The Bureau of the Census, under joint sponsorship with the Department of Health and Human Services, first conducted a survey specifically designed to obtain data on child support and alimony in the spring of 1979. The survey, with minor modifications, was subsequently conducted in 1962, 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990 by the Bureau of the Census and sponsored, in part, by the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services. Data from the earlier reports were presented in Current Population Reports, Series P-23, Nos. 112, 140, 148, 154, and 167. Summary statistics from all previous surveys are presented in tables A, B, E, F, K, and M of this report.

1 Women 18 years and older.
2 NCHS Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 39, No. 4, August 1990.

A Note on Language

Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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