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The Evolution of Child Adoption in the United States, 1950-2010: An Economic Analysis of Historical Trends

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  • Moriguchi, Chiaki

Abstract

Annually 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Moriguchi, Chiaki, 2012. "The Evolution of Child Adoption in the United States, 1950-2010: An Economic Analysis of Historical Trends," Discussion Paper Series 572, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hituec:572
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kasey Buckles, 2008. "Understanding the Returns to Delayed Childbearing for Working Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 403-407, May.
    2. Leonardo Felli & Leeat Yariv & Allan Collard-Wexler & Mariagiovanna Baccara, 2010. "Gender and Racial Biases: Evidence from Child Adoption," 2010 Meeting Papers 273, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, June.
    4. Moriguchi, Chiaki, 2010. "Child Adoption in Japan, 1948-2008―A Comparative Historical Analysis―," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 61(4), pages 342-357, January.
    5. Martha J. Bailey, 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Life Cycle Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320.
    6. Elizabeth Ty Wilde & Lily Batchelder & David T. Ellwood, 2010. "The Mommy Track Divides: The Impact of Childbearing on Wages of Women of Differing Skill Levels," NBER Working Papers 16582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Gumus, Gulcin & Lee, Jungmin, 2010. "The ART of Life: IVF or Child Adoption?," IZA Discussion Papers 4761, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Amalia Miller, 2011. "The effects of motherhood timing on career path," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 1071-1100, July.
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    More about this item

    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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