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Does Placing Children in Foster Care Increase Their Adult Criminality?

  • Lindquist, Matthew J.


    (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)

  • Santavirta, Torsten


    (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)

We evaluate the association between foster care placement during childhood and adult criminality. In contrast to previous studies, we allow associations to vary by gender and age at initial placement. We find that foster care predicts higher adult criminality for males first placed during adolescence (ages 13–18). We find no significant association for boys who were placed in foster care before age 13 and no significant association on the adult criminality of girls. These null findings stand in stark contrast to the poor outcomes reported in earlier work concerning the long-run effects of foster care.

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Paper provided by Swedish Institute for Social Research in its series Working Paper Series with number 3/2013.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 19 Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2013_003
Contact details of provider: Postal: SOFI, Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: (0)8 - 16 32 48
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  1. Joseph J. Doyle Jr., 2007. "Child Protection and Child Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Foster Care," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1583-1610, December.
  2. Joseph J. Doyle Jr., 2008. "Child Protection and Adult Crime: Using Investigator Assignment to Estimate Causal Effects of Foster Care," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 746-770, 08.
  3. Hjalmarsson, Randi & Holmlund, Helena & Lindquist, Matthew, 2011. "The Effect of Education on Criminal Convictions and Incarceration: Causal Evidence from Micro-data," CEPR Discussion Papers 8646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
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