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Using Child Maintenance as a Tool to Enhance the Circumstances, Outcomes and Wellbeing of Lone Mothers and Children

About This PhD Project

Project Description

When lone-mothers receive child maintenance the risk of poverty reduces and the poverty gap closes by 30% in the UK. Child maintenance is where a non-resident parent regularly gives money to the parent with whom the child lives most of the time as a contribution towards the costs of raising a child. When the non-resident parent pays child maintenance they are also more likely to remain actively involved in their children’s lives. This suggests that the payment of maintenance can typically enhance children’s wellbeing and outcomes through increased income and through non-resident parental engagement in post-separation family situations. Most wealthy societies have formal child maintenance systems in place and seek, to varying degrees, to ensure payment compliance from the non-resident parent. Compliance varies across countries, from a low of 22% in the UK to a high of 100% in Sweden. Non-compliance with child maintenance is a growing issue but is an area of social policy that is not routinely considered in relation to improving the financial circumstances of lone-parents. This is especially the case in the UK where much of the focus is on facilitating their access to employment rather than their entitlement to financial support from a non-resident parent. Where there are low levels of compliance with child maintenance, eg the UK, children report that they take on the task of negotiating money, care and time between separated parents; an experience of which policy-makers take little notice. Children become frustrated and worried about their resident parent not receiving maintenance and they try to ease tensions between their parents around money and contact. This research uses longitudinal quantitative data from children and parents and, qualitative data from children, to explore the impacts of the payment/non-payment of child maintenance on child and lone-parent socioeconomic and other outcomes.

Funding Notes

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

• A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science component
• Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of, social policy, socioeconomic inequalities, poverty, gender, children and families, children’s rights and participation.
• Have a good grounding in social statistics and be willing and able to extend statistical knowledge to an advanced level.

Students must meet ESRC eligibility criteria. ESRC eligibility information can be found here*:

Award Details:
The scholarship is available as a +3 or a 1+3 programme depending on prior research training. This will be assessed as part of the recruitment process. The programme will commence in September 2020. It includes:
• an annual maintenance grant at the RCUK rate
• fees at the standard Home rate
• students can also draw on a pooled Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview by 18th May 2020. Interviews will take place in late May/early June 2020.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within Heriot-Watt University. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Related Subjects

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