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Child Costs and Household Economics

Household economics requires a thoughtful approach and detailed understanding of the administrative, economic, and social factors in situations involving child costs. The Brattle Group has decades of experience in evaluating household economics models and data. We are accustomed to working with the literature and intricacies within this branch of economics, and have expertise in distinguishing between the direct and indirect costs of raising children. Our teams have applied this expertise to many policy issues, including child support payments and state guidelines principles and formulas.  

Our experts are proficient in applying family economics concepts and household economic models in policy settings. Brattle has reviewed and advised on existing state guidelines to ensure that financial recommendations are applied appropriately. We have worked with the Massachusetts Trial Court and Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force to help design the Commonwealth’s child support guidelines formula and the interactive worksheet used to inform amounts in agreements between payors and recipients. As part of Brattle’s expanding pro bono efforts, we have applied our expertise in this area to several pro bono issues.

The Child Costs practice combines rigorous internal analyses and state-of-the-art research by leading academics and industry practitioners in the field. The practice is led by Dr. Mark Sarro, a Principal in Brattle’s Boston and New York offices. Dr. Sarro was an independent economist to the 2016–2018 and 2012–2013 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Forces, was a member of the 2008 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force, and has served as an expert in other states and individual cases involving household economics issues.

Brattle works closely with Professor William Comanor of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health, who is also Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Formerly the Chief Economist at the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Professor Comanor is one of the nation’s leading experts on child costs and was the editor of the book The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments.

Areas of Expertise 

Conceptual Approaches to Measuring Child Costs
Economic Estimation of Child Costs
Quadrennial Review of State Child Support Guidelines
Development of Child Support Guidelines Formulas 

Featured Articles

The Economics of Child Support Guidelines: Understanding the Inputs and their Implications 
Mark Sarro 

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Worksheet 
(Note: Link only works in Internet Explorer)

Memorandum Response on 2017 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet 
Mark Sarro 

Economic Review of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, 2016-2017
Mark Sarro and R. Mark Rogers 

The Monetary Cost of Raising Children 
William S. Comanor, Mark Sarro and R. Mark Rogers 

The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments 
William S. Comanor

Additional Resources 

Angrist, J., & Evans, W. (1998). Children and their parents: Evidence from exogenous variation in family size. American Economic Review, 88, 450-477.

Apps, P., & Rees, R. (2000). Household production, full consumption and the costs of children. Journal of Labor Economics, 28, 773-824.

Browning, M. (1992). Children and household economic behavior. Journal of Economic Literature, 30, 1434-1475

Ellman, I. M. (2004). Fudging failure: The economic analysis used to construct Child Support Guidelines. The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 2004, 167-224.