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Child Support Economics Expert


Irwin Garfinkel is the Mitchell I. Ginsberg Professor of Contemporary Urban Problems and the chair of the Social Indicators Survey Center at the Columbia University School of Social Work. He was the director of the Institute for Research on Poverty (1975-1980) and the School of Social Work (1982-1984) at the University of Wisconsin. Between 1980 and 1990, he was the principal investigator of the Wisconsin child support study.

Garfinkel has authored or co-authored over 100 scientific articles and eleven books on poverty, income transfers, program evaluation, and child support including Single Mothers and Their Children: A New American Dilemma, Assuring Child Support: An Extension of Social Security, Social Policies for Children, and most recently, Fathers Under Fire: The Revolution in Child Support Enforcement. His research on the old child support system and proposal for a new child support assurance system helped shape Wisconsin's pioneering child support reforms, which in turn helped to shape the Child Support Act of 1984, the Family Support Act of 1988, and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (sic) of 1996. Garfinkel has also consulted with numerous other state governments in the US and the governments of Great Britain, Australia, and Sweden.

Garfinkel currently has 3 major research projects: 1) Fragile Families and Child Well-being, 2) Welfare Reform and Devolution in New York City, and Child Support Enforcement and Child Well-being. Fragile Families is a longitudinal study of unwed parents and their children. The study breaks new ground by providing previously unavailable information on: (1) child well-being in these fragile families, (2) the economic and social conditions of unwed parents, especially fathers, (3) relationships in fragile families (father-mother, parent-child, extended family), and (4) the role of community services and government programs in the lives of fragile families. The study follows a new birth cohort of 5000 parents and children that will be representative of non-marital births in cities with 200,000 or more inhabitants. A control group of married parents will also be followed. The Welfare Reform study utilizes The New York City Social Indicators Survey, a semi-annual telephone survey of a representative sample of New York city residents. The Child Support Enforcement study utilizes a variety of existing national data sets to estimate the effects of child support enforcement on child support payments, other behaviors by mothers and fathers, and ultimately child well-being.

808 McVickar
Columbia University School of Social Work
622 West 113th Street
New York, NY 10025
Tel: 212.854.8489
Fax: 212.854.2700