The Evolution of Child Adoption in the United States, 1950-2010: An Economic Analysis of Historical Trends
AbstractAnnually over 60,000 children in need of care are finding a permanent home through adoption in the U.S. In this study, I use a framework of family economics to examine the evolution of child adoption in the U.S. from 1950 to the present. Noting substantial heterogeneity within child adoption, I first compile detailed statistics and document historical trends in child adoption by the type of adoption in the U.S. I then investigate demand-side, supply-side, and institutional factors underlying the observed historical patterns. I find that, in the U.S., child adoption rate (per 1,000 births) was at its highest around 1970, and that, despite a resurgence in the 1990s, the adoption rate today is substantially below the historic peak. I also show that the composition of child adoption in the U.S. has changed markedly from domestic infant adoption to the adoption of foreign infants and foster care children since the 1970s, resulting in much greater diversity of adopted children and adoptive parents. I argue that these changes were initially brought about by large and exogenous supply shocks in domestic adoption, but were propelled further by endogenous changes in adoption laws, agency practices, and child welfare policies.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Discussion Paper Series with number 572.
Length: 25,  p.
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
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