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The Causal Impact of Removing Children from Abusive and Neglectful Homes

Author

Listed:
  • Anthony Bald

    (Brown University)

  • Eric Chyn

    (University of Virginia)

  • Justine S. Hastings

    (Brown University)

  • Margarita Machelett

    (Brown University)

Abstract

This paper uses administrative data to measure causal impacts of removing children from families investigated for abuse or neglect. We use the removal tendency of quasi-experimentally assigned child protective service investigators as an instrument for whether authorities removed and placed children into foster care. Our main analysis estimates impacts on educational outcomes by gender and age at the time of an investigation. We find that removal significantly increases standardized test scores for young girls. There are no detectable impacts on the test scores of girls removed at older ages or boys of any age. For older children, we also find few significant impacts of removal on the likelihood of having a juvenile conviction, graduating from high school, enrolling in a postsecondary institution, or having a teenage birth. We investigate potential mechanisms driving heterogeneous impacts by gender and age. Our results do not appear to be driven by heterogeneous effects on foster care placement, school mobility and quality, or participation in special education programs. For girls, we find that removal significantly increases the likelihood of post-investigation criminal charges or incarceration for parents and caretakers who are the perpetrators of abuse or neglect.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony Bald & Eric Chyn & Justine S. Hastings & Margarita Machelett, 2019. "The Causal Impact of Removing Children from Abusive and Neglectful Homes," Working Papers 2019-001, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2019-001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    child abuse and neglect; human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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