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US Census Bureau News Release

Mike Bergman CB05-26
Public Information Office  
(301) 763-3030/457-3670 (fax)  
(301) 457-1037 (TDD)  
e-mail: <pio@census.gov>  
Annual Support Payments Up 18 Percent, to $40 Billion, Census Bureau Reports

     Annual support payments, such as alimony or child support, increased by 18 percent between 1997 and 2002 after adjusting for inflation from $34 billion to $40 billion according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of these providers increased by 8 percent, from 7.2 million to 7.8 million. Such payments could be voluntary or mandatory from members of one household to those in another.

     According to Support Providers: 2002 [pdf], the average annual amount of financial support was $5,200, about 10 percent higher than the inflation-adjusted level of support in 1997 ($4,700).

     About 60 percent of support paid ($24 billion) was exclusively for children under 21 who lived outside the household, averaging $4,200 for the prior 12 months.

     About 2.1 million providers contributed support to people other than minor children, including parents (36 percent), adult children (27 percent), other relatives (23 percent) and spouses or ex-spouses (11 percent).

     Other highlights:

  • A large majority (84 percent) of child-support providers were men.
  • About 6-in-10 child-support payers supported one child, about 3-in-10 made financial payments for two children and 1-in-10 supported three or more children.
  • About two-thirds (67 percent) of child-support providers were non-Hispanic whites, about 16 percent were blacks, 2 percent were Asians and Pacific islanders and another 2 percent were American Indians and Alaska natives. About 14 percent were Hispanics (of any race).
  • About half of people who provided child support were under 40 years old.

The report uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling errors.