The following is a guest post by longtime Urbanagora reader Amanda. Amanda is commenting on this Press Release by the Blagojevich Administration.
As a student of economics, I think of policy as a way to “get the incentives right.” An argument could be made that parents not paying child support is a market failure, where the market for raising children would normally operate with parents meeting the finanical needs of their children. In an attempt to correct this market failure, Illinois Human and Family Services and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources created a program to withhold hunting and fishing licenses to child support deliquent parents. I’m not going to go into whether or not hunting is a “right” or a ”privilege” to be “granted” by the state, but that is also an interesting question. Illinois found a way to track down a certain subset of delinquent parents and gave them the choice to either pay their child support payments and get their license or not pay and not have the right to hunt (legally). The fact that the program contributed to the greatest collection of child support payments on record suggests that the policy is working. Could there be other ways to find delinquent parents and get them to cough up the money to make their kids’ lives better off? Suspending driving privileges is another step, though if the Illinois driver never gets pulled over, he/she would only face “payment or suspension” every 4 years (renewal requirements for 21-80 year olds) rather than the yearly renewal of hunting and fishing permits.