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July 15, 2002
Census: Annual Support Payments Top $2,900
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ng the 7.2 million people who paid support to a member of another household in 1997, the median amount of such financial assistance was $2,940 a year, according to a new report from the Commerce Department's Census Bureau.

"Because many providers assisted more than one recipient, the average amount going to a single recipient was considerably less than $2,900," said Wil Masumura, author of the Bureau report, Who's Helping Out? Financial Support Networks Among American Households: 1997. "The amounts and percentages varied by the characteristics of both providers and recipients."

Men paid about $3,000 in support in 1997, while women paid slightly more than half as much. Hispanics (who may be of any race) supported more recipients (an average of 1.6 persons) than did African Americans (1.5) and non-Hispanic Whites (1.4). The report covers all monetary assistance regularly furnished by households to individuals in separate households, particularly child support, and does not cover sporadic financial aid or nonmonetary support such as gifts or services.

Other highlights from the report:

- More than three-quarters (78 percent) of all recipients of regular financial support were children of the support providers, compared with two-thirds (66 percent) in 1988, the last time the report was issued.

- In 1988 and 1997, about 4 percent of the adult population provided regular financial support to designated individuals outside their household.

- In both years, regular financial-assistance providers were found proportionally more often among Hispanics than among non-Hispanic Whites or African Americans.

- A gender gap among providers was found in both 1988 and 1997. Just as women provided substantially less monetary support than men, considerably fewer women than men provided any regular financial assistance at all.

- In 1988 and 1997, those in the prime working-age bracket of 25 to 44 had the highest percentage of support providers among all age brackets.

- As expected, in 1988 and 1997, the divorced and separated were represented proportionally much more often than people of other marital statuses. The report uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error.
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