Reminders to Pay: Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Child Support Payments

Publication Date: July 15, 2015


This report presents findings from two behavioral interventions designed to increase the collection of child support payments in Franklin County, Ohio. As part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, the Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency implemented two interventions informed by behavioral economics principles to increase child support payments from noncustodial parents who do not have income withholding and need to take action each month to make a payment.

The first intervention involved sending payment reminders to parents who did not have income withholding and to whom the state did not already send any reminders to pay. The second targeted parents who were already being mailed monthly payment reminder notices by the state, but tested a new notice that incorporated simplified language, easy-to-follow instructions, and positive reinforcement.

The report shows that reminders can be an important tool for influencing people’s actions. The first intervention had a small, but statistically significant impact on the number of parents who made at least one child support payment. The second test did not have an impact on payments, suggesting that, in this context, the form of reminder does not seem to matter.

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