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A Theory of Child Adoption


  • Bethmann, Dirk

    (Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

  • Kvasnicka, Michael

    (Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)


Women can bear own children or adopt them. Extending economic theories of fertility, we provide a first theoretical treatment of the demand for adoption. We show that the propensity to adopt a child increases in the degree of own altruism, infertility, relatedness to the child, costs of own child birth, and any adoption-specific monetary return that is received net of the costs of adopting the child. Our model makes several testable predictions which receive empirical support. These include a higher propensity to adopt among infertile adults, relatives, women with high earnings potential, and celebrities.

Suggested Citation

  • Bethmann, Dirk & Kvasnicka, Michael, 2012. "A Theory of Child Adoption," IZA Discussion Papers 6689, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6689

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mariagiovanna Baccara & Allan Collard-Wexler & Leonardo Felli & Leeat Yariv, 2014. "Child-Adoption Matching: Preferences for Gender and Race," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 133-158, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Potter, Marina Haddock & Font, Sarah A., 2021. "State contexts and foster care adoption rates," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).

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    More about this item


    children; fertility; demand for adoption; adoption; altruism;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact

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